Showing posts with label arkells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arkells. Show all posts

Thursday, August 11, 2016

video review: 'morning report' by arkells

Well, this was a mild disappointment - only mild, I kind of expected it, but still, I thought there could be more to it than this. Eh, it happens.

Next up, though... oh wow, this record really is something, so stay tuned for that!

album review: 'morning report' by arkells

I've been both anticipating and dreading this release.

More specifically, I've been anticipating and dreading this review, because for as much as I'm a fan of Canadian rock group the Arkells, I haven't exactly been wild about their creative decisions over the past few years. Their 2014 album High Noon went straight for more synthetic territory, de-emphasizing the rougher basslines and distortion in favour of gleaming textures and drum machines, which to me felt like the exact opposite direction one should take with the more political and self-serious subject matter. That didn't mean there weren't great songs - hell, 'Crawling Through The Window' made my list of my favourite songs of 2014 - but as a whole High Noon just didn't hold up to the melodic groove and fast-paced heaviness of their first two records.

And that didn't look like it was changing on their newest album Morning Report. Opening singles were sliding even further towards pop and seeming all the more plastic and slick, especially with lead-off singles like 'Private School', which sent up big red flags for me. Granted, that wasn't a guarantee things were completely off the rails - after all, my favourite songs from High Noon had been deep-cuts, even if 'Leather Jacket' was a pretty sweet tune - but I did have some reservations going into Morning Report. Were they justified?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

video review: 'high noon' by arkells

Man, I wish this album was better. Eh, it happens.

Next up... well, not really sure just yet, as I need more time to go through some discographies before I tackle Dilated Peoples or Spoon or do my retrospective of Liars. We might get a few random records first, so stay tuned!

album review: 'high noon' by arkells

So I've mentioned in the past that rock music never really died out in the mainstream in Canada, at least not in the same way it did in the United States. Maybe it was CRTC content restrictions dictating the radio had to play at least some Canadian content and more of it happened to be rock than pop, but the ultimate result is that a burgeoning Canadian rock scene has thrived over the past four or five years even as the pop rock boom collapsed. And it's not just Canadian rock either - a steady diet of acts like Metric and Tokyo Police Club have meant that Canadian radio is more receptive to other indie acts, which has meant songs like 'Come With Me Now' by KONGOS have broken the top 10 here where they struggle south of the border.

Now I could brag and say that the reason rock never really died up here in the mainstream is because it's just better than down south, but honestly we've got our fair share of crap up here too. The band I'm going to talk about today, however, definitely does not fall into that category. This band is called the Arkells, a Hamilton-based band who dropped their fast-paced, rough-edged debut in 2008 and immediately started attracting serious buzz. And it wasn't just the sticky, melody-driven riffs or Nick Dika's prominent bass or the songwriting that was a lot more clever, nuanced, and yet shockingly earnest and steeped in Canadian imagery than you'd expect, but the band had a knack for ridiculously catchy hooks that effectively sealed their fate and made a pop turn inevitable. That turn happened with their second album Michigan Left, a breezier album that brought in more keyboards and a hazier brand of production that recalled nothing less but a rougher, louder, faster, less-subtle version of The War On Drugs - and yes, that's a high compliment indeed. It helped matters that the songwriting on that second album was just as strong, an excellently framed road movie of a record that showed songwriting that could get both personal and political.

So you can bet I was psyched to discover they were dropping a third album titled High Noon, so I checked it out: how did it go?