Arkells – High Noon

Review by Dan Empringham

Arkells have progressed nicely since their first LP Jackson Square when they sounded like a basement jam band with some clever lyrics about growing up in the west end of Hamilton. With Michigan Left their second outing, they focused more on the idea of a pop song and structured each track, ensuring each one had its own memorable part for a listener to take with them.

In between those records they have also taken advantage of their sports loving personalities. Getting a shout out from one of their sports heroes, Tony Kornheiser during an episode of Pardon the Interruption, playing multiple sporting events and writing “Ticats are Hummin’” the first CFL original song since Dal Richards wrote a record of them in 1968. The past few years of playing large venues, sporting events and getting consistent radio play have led to the creation of High Noon, a record full of consistent anthemic, keyboard based selections.

The album starts off just as every great arena rock record should, a slow rising ostinado played by a single instrument, in this case it’s Anthony Carone on the piano. As Max Kerman comes in with lead vocal, he insures that even the people in the 500 section can hear him as he leans into it with a gritty and audience commanding melody. The song concludes with a Shine A Light  era riff, compliments of Mike DeAngelis, this is an anthem, this is a song that you will hear as professional hockey players skate around a rink warming up this season,  this is “Fake Money”. As the record hits half time, Caron is still taking most of the riff duties and tempos are up throughout, not letting anyone in the arena sit down and think about the long GO Train ride that awaits them but it’s the song writing that really catches your ear as the album’s clock runs out. Easy sing alongs, strong, foot tapping beats and riffs that are just too damned easy to hum. Songs like “Dirty Blonde” and “Never Thought this Would Happen” have tapped into a smoother, cleaner sound à la Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus. The album concludes with “Systematic”, another up tempo crowd pleaser with drummer Tim Oxford leading the way by executing quick, accurate and complimentary fills to the riffs that live within the song.  With the addition of  tasteful string arrangements on select number of songs is just another reminder that these aren’t your Kerman’s Fro Arkells.

On High Noon,  Arkells don’t ask fans to deconstruct lyrics or get into the mind of the artist; rather it just gives the listener a sense of what Arkells can do live and how well they control an audience. So instead of thinking about how bad your team is doing in the standings and how shitty you just did on your summer school essay, put on High Noon sing along, dance your ass off and shout whatever the hell you want, whenever you damn well please.