“High Noon” is a moment of decision defining a situation’s outcome. Serving as the midday meeting time for epic showdowns in Western films of generations past, High Noon is also the title of a ’50s Western film starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Arkells’ highly anticipated third album of the same name turns out to be just as entertaining as cowboys murdering other cowboys.
The Hamilton heroes now stand on a new frontier of sound. Still maintaining the rawness of their Steel City beginnings, High Noon fuses the band’s Rock ‘n’ Roll sensibilities with the experimental synth sounds of modern production practices. The result is a cinematic touch to a sound that was built for beer-soaked stages and will still have live music fans chanting until their voice boxes fucking implode.
The band has undergone some changes since the release of their sophomore album, Michigan Left, with the departure of their original keyboardist.
Anthony Carone had been a long-time friend of the band and when law school called Dan Griffin’s name, Carone seemed like the only natural replacement.
High Noon is in stark contrast to the largely DIY production methods of their first two albums. This time around, the band travelled all the way to Eagle Rock, California to have a creative orgy with Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck) in order to spawn an eargasm worthy of vinyl.
Carone says, “Tony produced all but three songs on the record. We brought in Eric Ratz to produce Fake Money, Cynical Bastards, and Leather Jacket. Those three tunes just needed a good kick in the ass, and Eric was the right guy to do it.”
Always true to their roots, the songs were constructed in an open factory jam space with large bay windows that framed the bustling street life of Hamilton’s downtown. In a blog entry posted before the album’s release date, the band wrote:
“It’s the ideal scene for witnessing Western life. Living here, we aren’t sheltered from heartache, but we have good reason for hope.”
The album showcases a lyrical maturity with wide ranging themes, from power politics in Fake Money to the self-realization of broken long-term relationships in Crawling Through The Window.
I remember my first time seeing Arkells live in London, Ontario and losing grip on my unlit joint in a mosh-pit surge during No Champagne Socialist. I knew the band had struck a chord in me when I didn’t care.
Truly, no musician’s music fully makes sense until its subtleties are emphasized by stage lights and drunken revelry. Fans can always smell honesty and Arkells have become known for constantly walking bravely past the borders of their comfort zone. Last summer at TURF, the band played a set consisting of half Arkells’ music and half Motown covers that would have had The Four Tops running for their money.
In the age of the Internet, where all musicians stand on the same platform of publicity, bands must work increasingly hard to stand out among the masses.
“I think that’s where putting on a great live show comes into play. Fans listen to music for an experience, and if they can remember a moment they loved during your live set, they’ll definitely be going home and buying your tunes to relive that moment”, says Carone.
With the new album releasing worldwide, the band will embark upon an extensive touring schedule tickling the ear-pussies of live music fans across Europe, the United States and Canada.
In a time where most bands are putting out albums like canned food – standardized and familiar, or deciding to change food groups altogether – it’s refreshing to see a band that sticks to the roots of its music while still yielding new fruit. Like all creators who are forward moving, Arkells do right by their hometown’s unofficial slogan – “a work in progress”.