Canadian Sweethearts (Arkells, Morning Report review)

The Canadian Sweethearts were a Canadian rockabilly duo that were popular during the 1960s and played together almost 20 years. They are probably best known for their song Eeny Meeny Miney Moe, but the most important allusion I want to make between them and the musical act being considered today is that both group were metaphorical Canadian sweethearts too.

And while The Canadian Sweethearts did break out into the US markets with their fun and high-energy track, I hope these gents can do it proper too.

 

 

 

Arkells – Morning Report
released August 5, 2016
******** 8/10

arkells-morning-report-artwork

Arkells are a Canadian indie rock band that have roots in the eastern coast. Yay for Canadian content! They’ve signed with Dine Alone records, and are now also on the Universal Records Canada label as well. Morning Report is their 4th album-to-date, and by far the most adventurous album they’ve done thus far.

I’ve been a fan of them since that first single Oh, The Boss Is Coming! was released back in 2008, but I didn’t pick up any of their records until I saw them live in January of 2015 with my sister and her beau. After that fateful show, when I decided to start attending concerts on the regular again, I immediately picked up their back catalogue which at the time included the still somewhat fresh High Noon, now a Juno award winner.

These guys are from Hamilton, Ontario and they are a fucking national treasure, they should have the international market dead to rights by now, but somehow they haven’t broken through that US wall just yet. In the fine tradition of acts like The Tragically Hip, Sloan, Sam Roberts, and April Wine, these guys are Canadian rock stars who should be bigger than they are.

Morning Report takes quite a few notes from that previous album, exploring more of a pop-rock tone, to ensure continued strength and representation ALA tracks like A Little Rain and Savannah, but this is not why I love this band. It’s because in between those harmonies, you find that they are still exploring and making music that makes them happy.

The first two tracks, Drake’s Dad and Private School do a great job of this, but by far the sweetest and most emotionally wrought song of the whole record is Passenger Seat. It breaks my heart EVERY time I listen to it.

This of course is followed by another pop-rock ditty called Making Due, proving that this album is all over the place with it’s tone. Produced by Joe Chiccarelli , Tony Hoffer, Brian West and Gus van Go, Morning Report flows in and out, sampling from Arkells spectrum of songs, but somehow making this an even more enjoyable effort than High Noon.

I suspect that it’s because every song plays heavy on the lyrics and instantly likeable voice of lead singer Max Kerman.

And then there is Come Back Home, which is also quite rough to listen to. Two guesses of what it’s about. But that song is followed up by a song of friendship in the form of A Little Rain (A Song For Pete). As I mentioned, while the tone is all-over the place, lyrically this album does a great job of dealing with those post-college years, the ones that no musician really wants to deal with. When all your friends long-term relationships either turn into marriage and family or fall apart.

In the most simplest of terms, and the most authentic of emotions, Morning Report is an examination of the after effects of your early twenties.

 

 

 

It’s tough being a Canadian musical act. Sometimes you get all kinds of proper attention on a global scale, and sometimes you fight for decades but never get to the open seas. I know that Arkells have the ability to reach higher and higher, and by playing festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, they are sure to gain more attention, let’s just hope whatever happens, they remember they are Canadian sweethearts.

Tim!

 

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