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Rating: 8/10
One thing painfully obvious to any avowed music aficionado is that trends are anomalies. They’re nearly impossible to predict, and it seems like divine intervention when someone kicks off a movement that drastically alters the landscape of the music industry. Nirvana didn’t set out to destroy 80’s Metal… it just happened by virtue of the strength of their songwriting and arriving at a perfect interval where a slew of similarly-minded musicians arose around them to bolster the cause.
By that same rationale, resurgences of previously popular music trends can be just as flummoxing: yet, once they’ve gripped the public consciousness they appear to be acts of genius. John Mayer or The White Stripes profiting by reinvigorating blues music (or the power duo/trio) would have seemed a ludicrous notion prior to the trend beginning, but in hindsight the acts seem inspired.
All of this is to say that the apparent resurrection of 80’s Synth-Pop is something I definitely couldn’t have predicted, but am exceedingly excited to see. From the popularity of the Drive soundtrack to the rise of Foster the People or Tegan and Sara’s efforts on Heartthrob, a wave of synth-based sound has again begun to crest; riding atop it is the exceptionally inventive New Wave (pun not intended) duo Hockey.
As I alluded to in my previous post about the group, the duo of Ben Wyeth and Jerm Reynolds definitely strengthen the cause for the resurgence of synth’s prevalence and relevancy. Their sound on Wyeth IS (their second studio release due out today – May 7), while evocative of the best of the 80’s Synth-Pop and New Wave mainstays, is not mere mimicry. In point of fact the group is deceptively difficult to draw identifiable parallels to.
One could compare them to Foster The People or The Postal Service in many respects, but Hockey’s compositions are far less kinetic than either. The duo benefits from a beautiful blend of mellow down-tempos and Wyeth’s smooth, mellifluous delivery to craft their unconventionally catchy tunes. As Wyeth himself stated in a recent interview with BestNewBands.com, “Slowing a song down to half its original tempo worked for a few songs. The singing is more relaxed and melodic too. A different sound in general than our last record by quite a bit… It was all through experimenting and messing around within the recording process. We made it all in our own studio so we had time to explore with sounds and many different versions of songs. Our favorite songs from the last record were written in the studio.”
I could remark on similarities to 80’s icons like Talk Talk or Depeche Mode, but Hockey’s clever use of samples and their creation of atmosphere is so firmly rooted in the contemporary culture that it eclipses merely evoking a sense of nostalgia with their style.

Choice Cuts:
Defeat on the Double Bass Line, Calling Back, My Mind, Thought I Was Changing

Hockey, I would say, create a genre unto themselves.
When I say the album is mellow, I certainly don’t intend to imply it’s a sleeper either. The songs are energetic and effulgent… they simply aren’t as erratic or grating as most Dubstep or Electronica. Hockey craft deliberate and insistent beat-driven tunes with more hooks than a pirate ship and enough melody to make each and every syllable memorable and singable.
This album doesn’t live or die by single lines: every piece of the whole is integral. There are far fewer contemporary groups writing with any sense of continuity or uniformity. Albums often feel like collections of “singles.” Wyeth IS is harmonious in all respects, combining the best of previous Synth-Pop efforts with a unique and modern sensibility to blaze their own trail in the reinvention of the genre for a new generation. This release has effectively put the music world on notice that Hockey is a definite trendsetter in the making.
This May, the duo will join The Hush Sound for a co-headlining North American tour in support of Wyeth IS. Be sure to snag a copy of the album TODAY and see them when they roll through your locale!

May 14 Webster Hall – New York, NY
May 15 TLA – Philadelphia, PA
May 16 Royale – Boston, MA
May 17 U Street Music Hall – Washington DC
May 18 Amos Southend – Charlotte, NC
May 19 The Loft – Atlanta, GA
May 21 The Social – Orlando, FL
May 22 Culture Room – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
May 23 The State Theatre – St. Petersburg, FL
May 25 Trees – Dallas, TX
May 26 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
May 27 The Parish – Austin, TX
May 29 Firebird – St. Louis, MO
May 30 Blue Note – Columbia, MO
May 31 The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
June 1 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
June 2 The Rave – Milwaukee, WI
June 4 Metro – Chicago, IL
June 5 A&R Music Bar – Columbus, OH
June 6 Alter Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
June 7 Crofoot Bar – Pontiac, MI
June 8 Grog Shop – Cleveland Heights, OH

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