By JAKE ROBINSON
“Can we hear it for the whistleblower?”
The Arkells’s sophomore album Michigan Left was released in stores on Oct. 18. The album debuted second on the iTunes charts and first on the iTunes rock charts.
The band has come a long way since its Deadlines EP was released in 2008. The band has grown on the stage as well as in the studio; and now, Michigan Left is another stepping stone for a band that has the potential to be one of the greatest Canadian rock bands of all time.
They begin the album with Book Club. You can hear the newly found confidence in singer Max Kerman’s voice immediately as he sings the opening line of the album.
The LP continues with Where U Goin which keeps a jaunty tempo adopted from the opening track. The Arkells relate back to their home in southern Ontario singing, “403 – 401 – 402 you’re on the run,” which is sure to become a favourite of local fans. As most bands get bigger they tend to shoot past their hometown and aim for a wider audience.
However, the Arkells stay loyal to their homeland of Hamilton while embracing fans across the country and even those in the United States.
The album’s title track, Michigan Left, about life in a small Michigan town, features dynamic guitar riffs and Kerman’s raspy melodic vocals.
The band displays a great knack for songwriting both musically and lyrically. They have an innovative sense of how to tell a story simply but also discretely. The song Kiss Cam, which features the lyrics, “at the time you were kissing me, the camera found chemistry; cheering for us in the cheap seats,” tiptoes around the fact that a couple was on the Jumbotron during a sporting event.
Songs such as Coffee and Agent Zero display a great tide of blues and jazz that have been rarely used by artists over the past few decades. The soulfully crafted tunes riff melodic blues guitar and jazzy hi-hats from the band’s drummer Tim Oxford. However, the Arkells put a spin on the songs by adding their own upbeat sound which makes you want to dance.
The self-produced album includes many gems from On Paper to One Foot Out The Door and Bloodlines.
On Paper is about a man meeting a girl at a club and proposes that he can give her everything she wants on paper. The verses sound like a throwback to a Bruce Springsteen song while the chorus captures the Arkells catchy songwriting hook. The song breaks down into a crunchy guitar riff while Kerman sings along hitting every note as he mimics the melody of the guitar.
They continue with their hit-single Whistleblower which was released on July 5. The loud and energetic song will turn you into a “whistleblower” as the captivating guitar riff is sure to get stuck in your head.
The Arkells have produced an album that solidifies their original sound which won them a Juno Award for best new artist in 2010.
Michigan Left is fun, reminiscent, emotional and innovative. It has everything that a great album must have to become a classic.