Year 5, Day 1: The Arkells’ Ode to Last Night’s Shenanigans and Life’s Surreal Moments, “Morning Report”

Year 5, Day 1: Arkells – Morning Report

arkells

Track List

  1. Drake’s Dad
  2. Private School
  3. My Heart’s Always Yours
  4. Savannah
  5. Passenger Seat
  6. Making Due
  7. Round and Round
  8. Hung Up
  9. Come Back Home
  10. A Little Rain (A Song for Pete)
  11. And Then Some
  12. Hangs the Moon

About the Album

Morning Report, is the fourth studio album from Canadian alternative rock band, Arkells. The album was released August 5th 2016 worldwide through Last Gang Records. The album was nominated for a Juno Award for Rock Album of the Year, along side fellow Canadian band, Billy Talent.

Thoughts on the Album

Welcome to the fifth year of the Broad Street Playlist, thanks for the support for the first five years. Here’s to the next five! Now then, year five kicks off with one of my favorite bands… like top 10 bands ever. The alt-rockers, Arkells, from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada bring the rock and soul with their fourth studio effort, Morning Report. Let me tell you something about these guys, if you ever get to go to a concert or live show of theirs, it’s really like you are in “the nondenominational choir of [insert city/place/venue]”. From the very first listen of the album, it’s a melting pot of musical influences. Each track has it’s own story to tell and it’s own tone to be set.

With Morning Report, the Canadian alt-rockers continue to build off their sweaty, blue collar, Hall & Oates-esque (black and) blue eyed soul. Mix in some pop sheen, sparkle, and glam, and you have this album. So according to frontman, Max Kerman, the title “Morning Report” refers to hearing about the adventures and debauchery from the previous evening. And let me tell you something, this album sounds just like that, with each song telling a story of some kind.

The album opens with the bombastic Drake’s Dad, and judging by the song, it sounds like the band has had some pretty damn memorable nights. The song is about a road trip that Kerman and his friends went on through the Southern United States two years ago (2015). Who should they run into on their adventures and shenanigans? None other than Dennis Graham, the father of rapper, Drake. The song highlights their drunken adventures of friendship through Memphis, then on to Nashville, then finally returning home to Hamilton. I hope they at least got some good barbecue in Memphis

Drake’s Dad fuses hip hop style beats with a gospel choir and stadium rock sound. The gospel choir made it feel like I was back in 2006 and I was at my old Catholic church’s Sunday service. The bass groove on this track is *swoons* excellent. It’s crisp, raw, and bouncing. The piano adds an excellent touch of soul. The gospel choir just puts it into that category of “absurd/is that freaking gospel choir?!” of “I was wasn’t expecting that, but I’m pleasantly surprised.”

not-bad-toews-cat-meme

I mean… a gospel choir?!

From the Genius lyrics page for Drake’s Dad…

“Drake’s Dad” is Elton John meets Kanye West. Southern groove, classic piano changes, 808s, and a gospel choir.

From Drake’s Dad, the album leads right into Private School. A sly and raucous jam that follows in a similar vein as the preceding track. It’s the “Nondenominational gospel choir” effect, where you’ll be joining the choir singing along to the chorus. Think along the lines of Beck‘s Loser. It definitely a venue rocker, that’s for sure… and having seen them at the Fillmore in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia, I can confirm this (along with A Little Rain (A Song for Pete)).

From an annotation of the song’s Genius page…

Some people are lucky enough be born in to privilege, and this song is about the ones who don’t fully realize it.

That’s why I gravitated towards Private School. It reminded me a lot of dealing with people from a very privileged background. How to say it, it’s the loser’s anthem. The song that everyone whose ever had to deal people of privileged backgrounds (or even private school kids) and been put down by them. The outro of the song, Kerman belts out a paraphrased version of “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” from legendary college football head coach Barry Switzer.

Private School kids, life is so simple,

Born on third base, thought they’d hit a triple

Once again, Kerman has the answer…

“Born on third base and thought he hit a triple is one of my favourite lines ever.” I didn’t come up with it, but it perfectly describes people who are born in to privilege.

The third track off Morning Report is my favorite. My Heart’s Always Yours, has a Fleetwood Mac feel to it, and I’m trying to guess which Fleetwood album or songs it takes after. This track has one of the most infectious choruses that I have ever heard. It is a huge, high flying, and soaring chorus that channels Sting (think Every Breath You Take) and Brandon Flowers (think Crossfire). It’s a track that doesn’t hide it’s pop sensibilities but rather showcases the band’s knack for infectious and catchy melodies and hooks. It has a very dance-punk vibe to it that will have you dancing and singing along to it. Or if you want to be really cheesy (like me), using the track as means of confessing your love for that special someone. If high school Brian could see me now, he’d punch in the face for liking a song like this.

In an interview with Edmonton’s Sonic 102.9, frontman Max Kerman describes the song…

[‘My Heart’s Always Yours’] is definitely a heart-on-your-sleeve, romantic kind of gesture to my girlfriend. I just love hearing her sing in the shower. There’s something that’s awesome about that. Sometimes I’ll hear her sing in the shower, and I love that imagery. There’s something really romantic about that. We did [this] song with [producer] Tony Hoffer, who did our last record. We definitely were kind of going for the Killers meets Fleetwood Mac kind of vibe there, with a more modern sensibility.”

From Genius.

Some of my other highlights include: the equally catchy and emotive, Savannah. The bouncy, shimmering, and fun, A Little Rain (A Song for Pete). And of course, I can’t forget about Come Back Home. 

Conclusion

What is wonderful and beautiful about this album is that every track has it’s own story to tell. From drunken parties and hook ups to heartbreak and relationships lost, every track plays out like a soap opera or a Spanish telenovela. Diversity is this album’s strength and with four different producers, you get that, as every song is different from next. The Arkells could have stayed stagnant and written a whole ‘nother High Noon, but they didn’t. For that, I love them for it. I like when bands and artists evolve their sound. Change is good and in this case, helps the album succeed. Morning Report is an album that gives us a friendly reminder that life is messy, complicated, and at times, rough; people and relationships may come and go, same with love. But most of all: you never know just when you will/might [drunkenly or soberly (I don’t judge)] stumble into the best moments of your life

Tracks to Listen to: Drake’s DadPrivate SchoolMy Heart’s Always YoursSavannah, and Come Back Home

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