“Look out! I’ve got too much soul for the world!” growls Hockey singer Ben Grubin on opening track “Too Fake” channelling the swagger of a raspy Rod Stewart. And judging by the spring-loaded bass line and buoyant drum keeping up behind him, this is the sort of hit song that comes around only once in an iPod’s life cycle: it’s the perfect meeting point between downtown New York and the seedy streets of London.
But before you judge the direction of the Portland quartet’s debut based on the gate-crashing first single, check out the curveball that is “3 AM Spanish,” a funky composition with a spirit committed to both the fluidity of rap and the angstiness of Combat Rock-influenced punk. In fact, Grubin’s experience as an amateur MC way back in high school, as he reveals, comes in handy intermittently throughout Mind Chaos such as in the bridge to the howling “Curse This City,” (which, jarringly, also ends with a soulful and paradoxical commitment to “love this city”) and also during the verse of the spitfired Dylanisms of “Preacher.”
“As a kid, I listened to MC Hammer and C + C Music Factory, then some Wu Tang Clan,” Ben blushes. The influence is still felt. Obviously.
Irregardless of the rock and roll truths, the fact remains that Hockey has come a long way since their dingy practice space in Spokane, or the small venues in Portland as a supporting act, or even, as the incarnation in college that once performed as a duo with a drum machine and a hi-jacked campus piano. Ben, Jerm, Anthony, and Brian are poised to infuse the world over with their Mind Chaos and it’s the daunting largeness of potential world domination that has the band most excited. “It sort of has an all or nothing feel to it,” Grubin says, “[And] I like the idea of a big gamble.”