Free Energy rises from Hockey Night's ashes


Hockey Night in action.

Thank goodness there's years, miles, bands and hatchet buryings to separate Free Energy and Hockey Night. Were the two bands, related by a few shared members and a few pints of spilled blood, any closer by geography or chronology, we'd have the makings of a bonafide band feud such as this town hasn't since Bob Dylan pimp slapped Morris Day.

Gimme Noise is loathe to open old wounds-- but suffice it to say that the beloved local outfit Hockey Night disbanded on disagreeable terms, and the resulting schism kept a couple members to reform here and sent a couple members to Philly in order to start over under the close attention of DFA Records.

That's Free Energy, folks, and they've finally debuted their long-awaited Myspace and Facebook pages.

The resounding question? Is it any good?

Well, if you measure a band by the accuracy with which they imitate not just a genre of music but single artist, then, well, yes.

Free Energy's posted songs pay such close tribute to T-Rex that it's very nearly bitterly distasteful. Hey, we understand-- if you're going to steal, steal from the best. Lacking that, steal from the hippest. Or, at the very least, steal from someone who can get your name in Vice Magazine. But color Gimme Noise unimpressed-- at least until we figure out what all five of their members are doing in these recordings. By our count, three audible instruments make it into the mix, and there are virtually no vocal harmonies. This is not efficient use of five good pieces. And there's nothing more lamentable than a five piece busting their ass to sound like a three piece.

To make matters worse, Free Energy lacks all of Hockey Night's sense of adventure, and their willingness to mix genres. The austere might call that being "more centered." And sure, it is. But is that what we want from rock and roll now? Do we WANT our rock musicians "centered?" Gimme Noise has Electric Warrior on wax, thanks. And until Free Energy has something to offer that the late Mr. Bolan didn't spend his own short life repeating ad nauseum, we'll be listening to that whenever we want the comforts of a glittery garage.

You'll forgive us for being rather partial to Hockey Night. But our devotion to that band was certainly not so much that we'd turn our backs on another great upstart.

Unfortunately, Free Energy's debut smacks strongly of a well executed hipster cash in, complete with tye dye Garfield shirts and the temporary endorsement of a trendy electro label. Don't take our criticism too harshly. The band will almost certainly catch on, tour at length, and enjoy a good amount of indie fame.

The members? We know them, and we like them. We love them in fact. And despite the indignation we might feel (all this time, all that bad blood, for THIS?!), we can distill our first impression of Free Energy to that simple line our parents used on us oh so many times with oh so much success-- we're not mad. We're just disappointed.