July 27, 2009

The Arkells
Jackson Square

Hamilton, ON
Produced by Jon Drew and the Arkells | Recorded By Jon Drew | Engineered by Wayne
Cochrane, Jamie Krebs and Luke Marshall | Mastered by Noah Mintz

Sometimes the line between indie and mainstream is blurred, and it’s a very fine line to cross. Sometimes bands bounce back and forth, maintaining their “indie cred” one song, while forgoing it the next 11 tracks. The Arkells are a band that hail from a regular “steel town” and bring that influence into their album, Jackson Square, with biting guitars, smooth bass and a real-to-the-core indie influence that borders on mainstream every chance they get, credit in tow all the way along.

Opening track “Deadlines” starts with a low bass line that moves right into vocalist Max Kerman’s wail. His voice and panicked gasps make the rest of the CD incredibly enjoyable to listen to.

Songs like “Oh, The Boss Is Coming” and “Tragic Flaw” carry a fast, head-bobbing vibe that are catchy and energizing at the same time. “Oh, The Boss Is Coming” acts as their first single and for good reason, being one of the strongest tracks on the album with a delightfully energetic chorus and a climactic bridge that make it an obvious radio hit.

“Abigail” and “No Champagne Socialist” shine with their raw sound and heartfelt, nostalgic lyrics, with the latter showcasing excellent use of harmonica. “Heart of the City” showcases the drummer’s skills and the band’s ability at crafting a fast, light song. “John Lennon” shows off their dedication to charmingly obscure lyrics.

Jackson Square deserves multiple listens to dwell on its great sense of instrumentation, lyricism and timing – used to create a gem of a contemporary rock album. (Dine Alone Records)
-Max Specht


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