REVIEW: Arkells – High Noon (2014)

ARKELLS – High Noon (2014 Universal)

Thank rock and roll for new bands like the Arkells!  I’ve been happily enjoying their singles for years.  I really fell in love when I saw the Hamilton band open the 2017 NHL Awards.  A starstruck Max Kerman (vocals) gleefully fist-bumped with Wayne Gretzky.  I knew I had to get one of their albums.  On vinyl!  I chose their 2014 release High Noon to be my first Arkells, for its unforgettable single “Leather Jacket”.

Kerman managing to keep his shit together on national TV with The Great One

High Noon was a sound choice.  “Leather Jacket” has been an earworm for a long time.  High Noon also has another sterling single, “Come to Light”.  Its basis is similar to Bowie’s “Modern Love”.  While there is no mistaking the year, the Arkells put a slick 80s slant on these songs.  Whether it’s in the beats or the keyboards, there is a love of 1980s rock here on High Noon.

There are numerous highlights and few forgettable ones.  Album opener “Fake Money” has a strong piano riff, a classic U2 vibe, and an anti-corporate attitude.  One of the catchiest, more summer-y fun tracks is ironically “Cynical Bastards”.  Good time upbeat rock with solid beats to shake your butt to!  “11:11” is primed for dancing .  Everyone will pick out their own favourites, because there aren’t any poor songs on this wax.  Check out “Crawling Through the Window” for a slower tune with all the integrity intact, or the strange Disco hop of “Systematic”.

A band can make or break based on the lead singer.  I really like the expressive and sincere singing style of Max Kerman.  He stands out from first listen.  It’s hard to say exactly what makes him stand out, but he certainly does.  A band to watch.

4.5/5 stars

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15 comments

  1. Love High Noon, I bet it sounds delicious on vinyl!
    Well said Mike, I agree with the assessments all around – 80s slant, while still sounding fresh, and most people will likely pick different tunes as favourites.
    I’m a cynical bastards fan myself, perhaps because Burlington (where I grew up) gets name-checked!
    And nice point about Max having a certain charisma as the lead vocalist. It was great seeing them open for the hip, one of the few times I saw a hip show where the crowd got right into the supporting act as well. no ‘hip hip hip’ being yelled. I guess it didn’t hurt that in their tune ‘kisscam’ they’ve got the line, “this campfire won’t last forever, the hip have only got so many songs!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Geoff it’s great on vinyl. I wish I recorded it a little louder is all, but it sounds brilliant.

      Hahaha, sounds like lyrically I need to pay more attention. I love stuff like that. I’m looking forward to getting more albums.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My intro to Arkells was seeing them live at the Horseshoe which, as you know, is a small little club. We were there for Immaculate Machine, but Arkells were on the bill and impressed us completely! I don’t own all the records (I have one here now, Michigan Left), but I wanna get the rest. I never see them used, though, which tells me fans keep their stuff, so I’ll probably have to suck it up and pay full prices for them. I’ll be in Taranna shortly. I’ll look!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Never heard of this lot, but I’m always slightly cynical of an “anti-corporate attitude” while the band is on a major (one of the biggest media / entertainment corporate on the planet!). Kinda like Rage Against The Machine… raging within the machine. But, from a music perspective, I’ll need to listen a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

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