Hockey Night – Keep Guessin’ (CD)

Hockey Night – Keep Guessin’ / 2005 Lookout / 11 Tracks / / / Reviewed 15 August 2005

Starting out “Keep Guessin’” with “Get Real”, Hockey Night show their ability to move beyond the pop perfection created by bands like Weezer and The Bravery and make something even more addictive. Instead of simply being pushe forward with a simplistic, driving beat Hockey Night allow a little bit of trepidation to insinuate itself into the disc; what makes “Get Real” such an intelligent track is the present of a whole host of things, most important of which is the multiple-harmonies achieved of the band. Particularly interesting during the lead-out to “Get Real” is the slacker-like way in which Hockey Night takes on Modest Mouse – the “all right” repeated by both vocalists has more than a passing similarity to Modest Mouse’s hit “Float On”.

The punk tempo of “For Guys’ Eyes Only” is bolstered by the band’s disregard for every-day time signatures and song structure; whether it is the rambling thoughts espoused lyrically or the break-down of any structure, Hockey Night make a pop-filled track something that even the most jaded audiophile can appreciate. The brooding style that Hockey Night uses for “Sunset Eyes” pushes the patience of the listener for two major reason: first off, the arrangement is too disjointed to really connect well, and when the track does tend to soar (the seventies-influenced guitar/theramin-sounding solo), the length in which it does is much too short to turn the track around.

The band’s bread and butter has to be tracks like “Saturday Night Gallop”, in which the band find itself straddling two very different decades of music. The early-nineties alternative influence is something that cannot be ignored (especially in Paul’s vocals) , but equally prevalent on “Keep Guessin’s” forty-plus minutes of music is the seventies-rock (Styx, Kansas, UFO, Steve Miller Band) that is showcased by the rich guitar work present. “This Peaceful Year” is a watershed track for Hockey Night; incorporating a flute-led atmosphere and gloomy chorus to their general sound, what was so up-beat and positive is show to just as quickly become full of longing and emotionally intense. The AOR that is present even on the later tracks of this CD, specifically “Cooperation” will bring people fully back to the country-fried rock of the era while without any of the irony that bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd are discussed with in the current period. A strong album that does not tie itself down to any one genre, “Keep Guessin’” is the magnum opus for this near-decade old band.

Top Tracks: For Guys’ Eyes Only, Get Real

Rating: 7.2/10

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