Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Arkells Light Up With Jackson Square

Max Kerman, ArkellsHailing from Hamilton, Ontario, it's difficult to pin down a defining moment for the Arkells. Was it when Dine Alone Records signed them in 2006? Was it when they won the CASBY Award in 2009 or Juno Award in 2010? Or maybe it's when they made headlines after rapper Shad and pop singer Kesha joined them onstage for a freestyle jam session at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto?

Or maybe, just maybe, their defining moment is right now with their killer album Jackson Square and finally jumping on a mini-tour in the United States. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but the tiny budget and tight van might be a distant memory the next time they visit. (The U.S. tour ended six nights ago in Chicago.)

The Arkells — Max Kerman (vocals, guitar), Mike DeAngelis (vocals, guitar), Dan Griffin (vocals, keyboard, guitar), Nick Dika (bass), and Tim Oxford (drums) are tearing up America with their first full-length release. Sure, some of the songs are already road tested, but they were never played out stateside off the original Deadlines EP and Jackson Square was released in 2008.

That all makes sense in Canada. But for most of my friends, the Arkells didn't exist until their album went up on iTunes USA in August and they started touring alongside Tokyo Police Club and Freelance Whales a few weeks before that. Now, they are among the hottest indie rockers being cued up on iPods and iPhones.

Don't be fooled by what you read elsewhere. I won't say they sound like Springsteen like some people are saying. They may have a working class sound, but the Springsteen analogy stinks. They're original, even if you can hear the Boss-like arrangement in one song.

"You can kind of say any name of any artist, but it's just a little heavier." — Max Kerman

Kerman's definition is more like it. These guys play what you like with blues hooks and heavier rock riffs than pop indies. What that means is Jackson Square is a hot 12-track album with few misses. If you have to cherry pick the music, the best sampler might be Deadlines, Pullin Punches, I'm Not The Sun, and John Lennon.

I'm including a cool transit cut of Pullin Punches, but don't sell them short. Listen to the produced version immediately after.

The official video released by Dine Alone Records is not as fun. But it does fill out the sound and better represents.

Another blazing song is Oh, The Boss Is Coming! I left it off my initial picks, but only because I know they wrote it after one of their real life bosses. That makes me biased, especially after hearing the acoustic version. Who hasn't had at least one boss that deserved a song written just for them? Exactly.

Then again, that might be why the Arkells are striking all the right chords. Plenty of folks feel stuck in their jobs right now, and plenty more are wishing they had one. Even Kerman mentioned that he still had a day job during one interview, but
Griffin said he dumped his. Good. Your day job is the Arkells on stage and Facebook.

The Arkells Strike The Right Chords With A 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Jackson Square is on iTunes. Customer reviews are holding strong at 4.5. You can also find Jackson Square on Amazon, with a single review that sums "Strong lyrics. Buy it."

Want to learn a little more about the Arkells? Check out the article in The Hamilton Spectator. You can find their Website here.
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