Though I'm sure it's a miniscule news item in the States, the NHL lockout has been a national tragedy in Canada. With the promise of a new season this fall, the wounds of its disappearance are finally starting to heal. But with still more than a month to go until the season begins, I took great comfort in the namesake of Minnesota's Hockey Night. A five-piece indie-rock band that boasts two guitarists, a bassist and two drummers, the group's second record, Keep Guessin', focuses on laid-back rock that is heavy on the melodies.
The group's Pavement influence is clear from the get-go. Opener "Get Real" features singer Paul Sprangers's best Malkmus impression, a party-trick he maintains throughout the album. Similarly, the musicianship plods through the oft-explored regions of indie guitar-wanking and simple drumming. In fact, had the press release not been so careful to boast about the band's two drummers, I doubt I would have noticed it at all.
It's the songwriting on Keep Guessin' that is usually strong enough to transcend its frequent unoriginality. "Cooperation," with its playful guitar and synth interplay and fluctuating tempo, shows the band at its most fun, and "Renegades" builds nicely into a slower rock jam. "For Guy's Eyes Only," the record's strongest track, contains a perfect equation of fuzzy guitar riffs and anthemic vocals that would sound great over one of those car commercials you secretly like.
Underneath the silliness of the "two drummers" pretense and the unabashed Pavement-worship is a group of five friends who seem like they want to write rock songs and chill in their parent's basement. This translates into a good-time rock record that could perfectly accompany a bike ride or afternoon rest.
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