The Broad Street Playlist Weekly Recap for 2/14-2/18/2018

Welcome to The Broad Street Playlist’s “Weekly Recap” for the week of February 14th 2018. Here we will recap everything you might have missed during the week and include a special Spotify playlist that contains four/five songs from each of the albums featured this week.

Batting first is…

Wednesday, February 14th 2018

To start off Year 6 of the project we discussed Canadian alternative rockers, Arkells‘ third studio album, High Noon. With High Noon, the Arkells took their trademark sound and added some more gloss to it. Bigger production, bigger sound, catchier choruses. The works. Taking the black-and-blue-eyed soul and rock and roll from Jackson Square and the more pop-rock influenced Michigan Left combining the two to create an excellent album. So make a wish at 11:11, grab your Leather Jacket, and take a listen. Click here to read more about the Arkells‘ High Noon!

Thursday, February 15th 2018

On the second day, we revisited our days as scene/emo kids back in high school with My Chemical Romance‘s The Black Parade! MCR created a rock opera that so creative, it leaves the listener leaving more. Compared to many in the category of “rock opera” or “concept album”, The Black Parade is the complete package: cohesive, epic, and spectacular. It experiments just enough and doesn’t try to do too much. Click here to read more about My Chemical Romance‘s The Black Parade!

Friday, February 16th 2018

The third day has us raising our firsts and demanding change with Rise Against‘s Appeal to Reason. While a slight departure from traditional Rise Against with more mid-tempo songs, Appeal to Reason still has that typical grit, snarl, and ferocity that many have come to expect from the Chicago based punk band. It’s album that’ll appeal to both fans of old and new fans. Click here to read more about Rise Against‘s Appeal to Reason!

Saturday, February 17th 2018

The fourth/final album of the first week, calms us down and chills us out. With The Chain Gang of 1974‘s Daydream Forever we traded in (for the most part) our heavy distortion on guitar and driving drum lines for some 1980’s retro, chilled out synth lines and beats. It’s a synth-pop gem that will perfect contrast with your more harder and faster albums in your music library. Click here to read more about The Chain Gang of 1974‘s Daydream Forever!

Spotify Playlist Recap

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Year 6, Day 1: Making a Wish at “11:11” with the Arkells’ “High Noon”

Year 6, Day 1: Arkells – High Noon

Track List

  1. Fake Money
  2. Come to Light
  3. Cynical Bastards
  4. 11:11
  5. Never Thought That This Would Happen
  6. Dirty Blonde
  7. What Are You Holding On To?
  8. Hey Kids!
  9. Leather Jacket
  10. Crawling Through the Window
  11. Systemic

About the Album

High Noonis the third studio album from Hamilton, Ontario based alternative rock band, Arkells. The album was recorded in Los Angeles during 2013 and released worldwide on August 5th 2014 through Dine Alone Records. The album debuted at number three on the Canadian charts. A year later, the album was certified Gold.

Thoughts on the Album

Why, hello there and welcome to the Sounds of Broad Street: The Broad Street Playlist! If this is your first time here, welcome! If you are returning visitor, welcome back! We have finally arrived at the sixth year of the Broad Street Playlist, and I figured I would open it with one of my favorite bands in the world entire flipping world. The Arkells are one of my favorite bands, ever, of all time. Their songs speak to me in ways that some of my other favorite artists can’t or don’t. Now then, if you haven’t had a chance to see the Arkells live, go see them live. They bring enough energy to power a large city like Philadelphia. Plus, it’s pretty freaking awesome to be a part of their “Nondenominational Choir of Philadelphia”. Much like previous releases, Michigan Left and Jackson Square, you can really hear the influences that other bands had on them.

High Noon builds off the sweaty, black and blue eyed soul, rock and roll that the band mastered in their previous two releases. Whereas Jackson Square and Michigan Left where more rock oriented, the Arkells take a 1980’s Hall and Oates approach and add in some (a metric crap-ton) of complex pop-rock orchestration. The album feels like a cross between an arena rocking Springsteen album and H2O era Hall and Oates. From the first listen of High Noon, I could tell that frontman Max Kerman worked on his storytelling and this is no more prevalent than on the track, Leather Jacket.

The album opens with Fake Money, the band’s first protest song according to Kerman. While not truly one of my favorite Arkells tunes, it comes out swinging, setting the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a track that takes punk influences such as The Clash and fuses those together with the 1970’s arena rock of Electric Light Orchestra. While, for me, Fake Money opens disjointed and sloppy, there is redemption within the track. The guitar work is exceptional and drives the song, breathing life into it and building an infectiousness that will be found throughout the album.

From Fake Money, it leads right into Come to Light, one of my all time favorite Arkells tunes. Come to Light sounds like it would fit perfectly on a Tom Petty or Don Henley or even (do I dare say it?) Billy Joel album. It’s like classic Americana or heartland rock that Bruce Springsteen mastered fused with late 2000’s/early 2010’s alternative rock. It’s a heavily piano driven song with a bass line that received a blessing from LCD Soundsystem. The bass and piano drive the verses before an explosively infectious chorus that just flies high and soars above all else. I felt like Come to Light had a full blown orchestra and choir backing it, the power from it would be too much for the album to contain. Having heard this song twice live, I have to say, kudos to the band for creating such a powerful song. Definitely a song to sing along to do or in my case, air guitar along to.

From frontman Max Kerman on Come to Light:

We wanted to channel some Americana. Those classic driving songs — Running Down A Dream, Boys of Summer, Money For Nothing, etc. are always fun to play live. … Come to Light is a reminder to myself to lean on your loved ones and always try to act with love and compassion, even in times of darkness

Now we arrive at one of the band’s biggest hits, 11:11. A song that is just another pretty great song to hear live. The song wreaks (in a good way) of M83, but that probably shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the album was produced by Tony Hoffer, who has worked with them. It’s a more laid back track that after the powerful and heavy Come to Light and high energy Cynical Bastards. But don’t mistake the laid back feel for swinging and missing. I would consider this a “non-traditional” love song. Usually most love songs are slower and generally lean towards heartbreak and sadness, whereas 11:11 keeps it upbeat and most importantly: introspective. It’s a song that’ll give you some positive vibes. Outside of Come to Light and Leather Jacket11:11 has the most infectious and catchiest choruses on the entire album. Another piano driven tune that takes some simple picked guitar lines, subtle synth lines, and of all things, some xylophone (weird, I know, right? But it works…) and allows time for the drum and bass kick in and build up to into a chorus that’ll have you belting it out at the top of your lungs.

Songs about love can go in any direction — sadness, heartbreak, etc. A love song, on the other hand can only be joyous and hopeful.

While being autobiographical, according to Kerman, it still touches on other aspects of love and relationships…

…My favourite part about seeing my friends fall in love: the pedestal they put their partner on. ‘I couldn’t hold a candle to you,’ ‘I was nervous just standing with you.’ I think that kind of swooning is a very nice thing

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Leather Jacket, a song that I could see being an arena rocker. It’s a blast to hear it being played live. It’s a non-traditional rock cut, but still a blistering one. A track chorus is just as infectious as the verses. The intensity and melody of Leather Jacket absolutely power the song and knock it out of the park. A home run track if I ever heard one. An anthem that utilizes every strength the band has. It has the ability to tell a story in less that five minutes… that’s almost Springsteen levels of storytelling. Usually it takes decades, but the Arkells crushed it. Once that pre-chorus hits, you can feel that it’s about to take you for a ride. It’s an excellent and high flying, soaring chorus that, quite frankly, I haven’t heard anything that can beat it. The piano and keys shine throughout, but especially during the chorus. You can really sense the emotion and power the song delivers.

Conclusion

High Noon is takes everything that the Arkells have molded and crafted and fused it pop-rock magic. It’s album that’s full of memorable and soaring choruses. Prime examples are: Come to Light11:11, Hey Kids!, and Leather Jacket. It continues a trend of consistently catchy Canadian styled rock. With influences of musical decades past, the album has the hooks to back it up. I have to say, this was the last Arkells album I listened to, as I checked out Morning Reporttheir fourth album before this. High Noon is an album that delivers a high energy and energetic album that most certainly leave you bobbing you head and air banding along to the songs. It’s rare that an album can successfully channel so many different styles and decades of music and be successful, but High Noon does just that. But of course, this is by no means a perfect album. Some songs are swing and misses, as well as some verses. But let’s put it this way: think of it as a “Sean Couturier” type album. Album that’s rough around the edges, but when given time to develop, delivers big hits and big goals.

Tracks to Listen toCome to Light11:11Dirty Blonde, Leather Jacket, Hey Kids!, Never Thought This Would Happen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Arkells albums reviews: Jackson SquareMichigan LeftMorning Report

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Broad Street Playlist Recap for 2/28 – 3/4

Broad Street Playlist Recap (for 2/28 – 3/4)

Hey everyone, welcome to a new feature for this year’s Broad Street Playlist. It’s weekly recap that’ll give you some highlights of the week, a special Spotify playlist featuring songs from each of the albums from the week, as well as a sneak peek of the next week. So without further adieu, let’s get started then?

Tuesday, February 28th 2017

It’s the welcome back post! While not the official start of the project, it’s the introduction to the project’s fifth year/anniversary. Featuring a fresh coat of paint, a tune up, and some new cup holders, the Broad Street Playlist is back and better than ever. If you want to read the post. you can click on his handy dandy link.

Wednesday, March 1st 2017

The official start of year five! And boy do we kick it off with a bang… with none over than one of the biggest and rising acts in alternative rock acts, ArkellsMorning Report is one of the rare albums that makes diverse songs work. An album that reminds us that life is never easy or simple… it’s complex in every aspect. It’s messy and rough at times, but even during those messy and rough times, you never quite know when you’ll just stumble into some of the best moments of your life. Click here to read more on Morning Report!

Thursday, March 2nd 2017

Day two of the project, continues a trip up north, past the 49th Parallel. Billy Talent is one of the biggest names in punk rock, despite being relatively unknown in the United States. I guess the 49th Parallel represents a barrier for the band. But with their fifth album, Afraid of Heights, it’s their standard to conquer our fears through unity and togetherness. So, what are you afraid of? Click here to read more on Afraid of Heights!

Friday, March 3rd 2017

Day three of the project flies us across the pond to Exeter, United Kingdom. Featuring a combination of indie rock, punk, pop-punk, and power pop styling, Muncie Girls strike gold with an extremely catchy and easy to like debut release, From Caplan to Belsize. The trio manages to create a fresh touch and entry into an otherwise crowded and oversaturated genre of music. This one is for the DIYers out there! Click here to read more on From Caplan to Belsize!

Saturday, March 4th 2017

Day four takes us back to the States, deep into the heart of the Chicago hardcore scene. Rise Against is arguably the biggest name in modern punk rock today. With massive hard hitting tracks that fill arenas worldwide, it’s not hard to see why. But, where did the band start it’s almost meteoric rise? I’d argue with none other than Siren Song of the Counter Culture. It’s an album that bridges the divide between mainstream rock and hardcore punk. Click here to read more on Siren Song of the Counter Culture!

A Sneak Peek of Next Week

Next week will be bringing some of the old favorites back (like Johnossi and Paramore) while featuring some newer (as in new to the project) such as The Tragically Hip. Don’t want to give away too much, but you can bet it’ll be another big week.

Spotify Playlist of the Week

So here is the Spotify Playlist of the Week, featuring four songs from each album. Since this week was a rather short week, you will get five songs from each album. So, unplug your headphones, turn the volume all the way, and get your neighbors in to enjoy these sweet tunes. 

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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

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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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My Top 10 Albums Listened To From 2016

This is something new I wanted to try starting this year. I wanted to do three top ten lists that outline my favorite items (songs, albums, artists) listened to from the past year.

This list, will be my favorite albums that I listened to this year. Each album listed will have a short explanation as to why it was my favorite. If the album was previously featured on here, I’ll link out to the review.

So let me get it started with…

Number 10: ¡Carajo! – Donots (2016)

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(Click here for the album review!)

It was a really good year for me when it came to my favorite bands releasing new albums. Number ten on the list is ¡Carajo! by German punk band, Donots. The album was an English language release of their tenth studio album,

From the album review:

Versatility, diversity, and rock… those are three words that you never expect to hear in the same sentence. But the Donots have created an album that is both versatile and diverse, but manages to keep a classic  punk rock sound.

I Will Deny is a giant arena rocker. If you happen to see their performance at Rock am Ring last year, they played a version of Ich mach nicht mehr mit with two other drummers … this song is meant to be played live in front of thousands of people.

No Part of It, is a track that was written about the current refugee crisis throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. Much like Die Ärzte‘s Schrei nach Liebe, it is an anti-fascist/anti-Nazi anthem… It’s got this dance-punk vibe to it only with heavy and roaring guitars and a soaring. I found myself shouting along to the message of the song.

Number Nine: We Were Here – BOY (2015)

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(Click here for the album review!)

As I’ve said in multiple album reviews on here before, I love diversity in my music. I love contrast. I love versatility. More so contrast. This is why I love BOY’s We Were Here. The album provides much needed change of pace and contrast in my playlists that I listen to. I also have a thing for female singers, and Valeska Steiner’s voice is both breathtaking and stunning. Her vocal range is every bit impressive. Compared to the band’s first album, Mutual Friends, the album is more subdued, but is every bit as good as it. The first track grips you and doesn’t let go, giving you a sense of the journey that the duo BOY have been through.

From the album review:

We Were Here is an excellent sophomore album and perfect follow up to their debut Mutual FriendsWe Were Here is an ambitious and charming album that finds it impossible and unnecessary to follow in it’s predecessor’s path.

Number Eight: This Could be a Possibility – Valencia (2005)

(Click here for the album review!)

Loud and local. That’s how I roll sometimes. Valencia was one the bands I listened to so much in high school. So much so I wore out the first CD I ever bought… a copy of Valencia‘s 2005, This Could Be a Possibility. It as my favorite song from the band: Tenth Street. The band was pop punk at it’s finest, and man did I love this album. Each song has that catchy and melodic, yet edgy pop-punk feel to it without it going into too much of mainstream pop-rock.

From the album review:

It’s every easy to dismiss Valencia as just another pop-punk, pop-rock, or emo band. But This Could Be A Possibility is a slick and well-crafted debut. The album is full of soaring choruses, crunchy guitar riffs which harmonize when needed, as well as filled with poppy hooks….

At roughly 33 minutes long, it could be the most fun you’ve ever listen to from a local band.

Number Seven: Music @ Work – The Tragically Hip (2000)

As a friend once told me, “Brian, when it comes to Canadian bands, you need two separate iPods for your Rush and your The Tragically Hip albums…” Well he wasn’t wrong. I listened the hell out of The Tragically Hip‘s Music @ Work. The eponymous track, Music at Work, is the ultimate disgruntled worker’s anthem. The lyrics of the tracks on here are odd and cryptic, yet give a view into the human condition. The album is a work of consistency and the old adage, “less is more”.

Number Six: From Caplan to Belsize – Muncie Girls (2016)

Once again, I struck gold within Spotify’s “suggested songs”. And man does From Caplan to Belsize from Muncie Girls hit a home run. The album is filled with smart lyrics and catchy indie-punk tracks. The album has excellent songwriting, excellent dynamics, and overall catchy quips within the songs. It’s a solid debut album. The album is full of variety while remaining consistent with the sound the band has made from previous smaller releases.

Number Five: Get Lost, Find Yourself – Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! (2015)

Another one of the rare finds from within the “suggestions” that Spotify offers. One listen to the third track,  The Other Line, from French pop-punk band, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!‘s Get Lost, Find Yourself, and I was instantly hooked. Tracks like Playing DeadSet it Straight, as well as The Other Line remind us just how fun pop-punk can be. It’s just one of awesome albums to rock out to.

Number Four: Boombox – Beatsteaks (2011)

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(Click here for the album review!)

Once again, another German punk band sneak their way into my most listened to albums for the year. The Beatsteaks, much like the Donots, are veterans of German punk rock. Though Beatsteaks, to me, have always been closer to alternative rock. But I digress. One of my favorite songs from their album Boombox, is Milk & Honey. It’s one of my favorite songs ever.

From the album review:

Milk & Honey. Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß’s vocals on the track are perfect […] Maybe it’s because the song […] is a slightly more gentler side of the band. It’s guitar riffs are solid, the vocals are sharp and crisp, the bass bounces nicely, and piano riffs are excellent.

While their old punk intensity may or may not be fully present on this album, the catchy choruses and riffs are bountiful. This album is a straightforward rocker, that’s no-nonsense. It’s a delightfully dirty, raw, rowdy, and gripping album.

Number Three: Ein Kleines Bisschen Horrorshau – Die Toten Hosen (1988)

Third German punk band on here… and this time it is the “godfathers” of German punk. Ein Kleines Bisschen Horrorshau by Die Toten Hosen, is one of the quintessential German punk albums. It’s also the quintessential Die Toten Hosen album. This album was creatively written and the lyrics are imaginative.

The opening and closing songs are excellent Hier kommt Alex (Here comes Alex), starts off with snippet of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. BEETHOVEN. This album is a concept album based on the film A Clockwork Orange. I mean seriously, how many bands can even pull off something like this? The ending track, Bye, Bye Alex is pretty much structurally and musically similar to the opening track, Hier kommt Alex. Overall it is a excellent album, especially if you have read and seen A Clockwork Orange.  It’s even better if you understand German.

Number two: Afraid of Heights – Billy Talent (2016)

I awaited this album for awhile. Canadian punk band Billy Talent, never disappoints. Their fifth album picks up where Dead Silence left off. Their fifth album, Afraid of Heights captures the essence of previous Billy Talent releases… from the catchy anthems of Billy Talent III, and III to the gravity and headiness of Dead Silence The centerpiece of the album besides the tracks, February Winds, Horses & Chariots, and This is Our War is the two part Afraid of Heights. Part one, the single version and the second track of the album hits home on conquering fears and taking a step into the unknown. The second part of Afraid of Heights, the reprise (and final track), is punctuated by an extremely uplifting guitar solo and closes out the album beautifully.

Number One: Morning Report – Arkells (2016)

Here we are, we’ve arrived at our final destination… number one. This was a no-brainer. I’ve worn out my CD copy of Arkells‘ 2016 release, Morning Report. It’s got so many different feelings and sounds to it, it might actually hurt the album. But it doesn’t. These different sounds and styles add layers of versatility; there is no one set, specific tone to any of the tracks. For me, some of the defining moments on the album are: Private School, Making Due, and My Heart’s Always Yours. Max Kerman, frontman for the band, has a voice that’s like a shape-shifter. Going from an almost gospel rock on Drake’s Dad to the jam that is Private School. While its a bit of a departure from previous work, I couldn’t say enough about this album… but I’ll save that for a later date.

Conclusion

There you have it my top 10 albums that I listened to from the past year. I would love to hear about your top 10 albums that you listened to in the past year. Here’s to an excellent 2017!

Year 4, Day 9: Arkells – Jackson Square

The Arkells’ debut album is a formula of Canadian “black and blue eyed soul”.

Year 4, Day 9: Arkells – Jackson Square

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Track List

  1. Deadlines
  2. Pullin’ Punches
  3. Oh, the Boss is Coming!
  4. The Ballad of Hugo Chavez
  5. Tragic Flaw
  6. No Champagne Socialist
  7. Abigail
  8. Heart of the City
  9. I’m Not the Sun
  10.  The Choir
  11. John Lennon
  12. Blueprint

About the Album

Jackson Square is the debut album from Canadian alternative rock band, Arkells. The album is also the band’s first full length studio album, released through Dine Alone Records. The album was recorded in 2008 and released later that year on October 28. The album is named after Lloyd D. Jackson Square, a shopping mall in the band’s home city of Hamilton, Ontario.

Thoughts on the album

The Arkells are one of my favorite bands… like top 10. I remember I got hooked on them from hearing their song Whistleblower from their album Michigan Left. After buying and listening to Michigan Left, I went out and bought their debut album, Jackson Square. This album is great for a debut. Most debut album suffer from meandering intros and tracks that seem to go on forever.

This was the album that made them seemingly household names, especially with the first single: Oh, the Boss is Coming! Then the band followed up that single with an equally big single, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez. The album itself is standard textbook rock and roll. It’s piano driven ballads fused with bluesy riffs, upbeat pop/rock tunes, and guitar smashing anthems that will please any music fan.

It’s not like the songs are anything new or innovative, they are just a lot of fun to listen to. The first single from the album, Oh, the Boss is Coming! is the everyday working man’s anthem for those who hate and spite their bosses. The Ballad of Hugo Chavez is a track from the perspective of Venezuelan President after his arrest in 1992. I’d argue the most underrated track on the album is John Lennon. It’s the catchy and sing along chorus that si the gem of the track, as well as the piano hook and sarcastic/snarky conversational writing style.

Conclusion

Overall, Jackson Square is a hell of an album. It’s no nonsense rock and roll. If Darryl Hall and John Oates are blue-eyed soul, then the Arkells are black and blue-eyed soul. The album itself isn’t some kind of classic nor is it going to bring about a musical revolution of sorts, but it will provide you enjoyment from listening. It’s a great album from one of Canada’s now biggest bands.

spotify:album:5CHtHt8Okfxk9WWinGTTEL

Day 26: Arkells – Michigan Left

Day 26: Arkells – Michigan Left

Tracklist

  1. Book Club
  2. Where U Goin’
  3. Michigan Left
  4. Coffee
  5. On Paper
  6. Kiss Cam
  7. One Foot Out The Door
  8. Bloodlines
  9. Whistleblower
  10. Agent Zero

About the Album

Michigan Left is the sophomore release of Canadian alternative rockers, Arkells. The album was released in October of 2011 and features the single, “Whistleblower” which was featured in EA Sports’ NHL 13 video game.

Thoughts on the tracklist

The songs feature some extremely catchy hooks, riffs, and choruses. This is no more evident than on the first track, “Book Club”. The song does an excellent job of storytelling and painting a picture of this woman named “Matty” who never stops reading and never remembers to listen. The song is interesting because it tells you just enough about this girl, whether she is real or fictional, that you can create her visual in your mind. To which, the song does an excellent job of luring you in and doing. With a almost perfect beat and storytelling ability, the rest of the album is reflected.

“Where U Goin” has shades of Hall and Oates with it’s sound. It is more autumnal and breezy with a soul-drenched pop sound that is set in a residence hall at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. Extremely catchy with a bass hook that drives the song. They even give the listener a lesson on how to get to “the chemical valley” aka Sarnia Ontario from Hamilton (403, 401, 402).

Other highlights: “Kiss Cam” I thought was very charming and honest. Catchy to the “nth degree”. It seemingly tells the story of a relationship in the midst of dying, going metaphorically from the somewhat postive cheap seats, to the negative nosebleeds; all while being caught on the kiss cam.

The single “Whistleblower”, is an anthem if I have ever heard one. Phenomenal, catchy, and punchy. “Whistleblower” is a simple premise, idea, concept, and execution that it’s able to win you over immediately. I had to ask myself if this is about a referee simply calling a sports game or exploiting a sports game for being something else entirely… I don’t know exactly. Whatever it is, decide on it, because I tell you, this is the kind of idea that makes an album like this work.

Thoughts on the album

The album has no gimmicks, no studio tricks, no computerized effects. It is just a simple, straightforward  and honest rock album that has little filler and even fewer disappointments on it. From name dropping New York Yankees outfielder on title track “Michigan Left” to namedropping the Tragically Hip on “Kiss Cam” the album shines. While the lyrics are not strong and by no means are they any form of great poetry, the music surely makes up for it. The songs deal with a limited range of topics and issues, mostly related to love and relationships. For example “On Paper”, talks about a guy whose desire for a girl but the ghost of relationships passed still haunts him, and the girls names both being Laura makes it worse.

Conclusion

Let’s face it… Canadian bands have been slowly, but surely, dying off one-by-one and it sucks, because there are good Canadian bands such as the Tragically Hip, Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, to name a few. The Arkells give hope to those looking for good rock coming from North of the Border. The quintet from Hamilton, Ontario bring an energetic and passionate sophomore effort. Charismatic and confident, Michigan Left rolls along channeling influences from Springsteen and Hall & Oates.