Let’s talk about Canadian music for a moment. Many of us never get to hear some of the incredible music making waves in Canada, simply because it never breaks the US. We don’t know about it because we don’t live there, and we don’t know enough to listen to some of the incredible stations (like Indie 88—indie lovers get on that stream ASAP!) or to tune in to some of the fine blogs and tastemakers in the area. And sure, we do fine with our US music, but if that’s all you’re sticking to—you’re missing out on some seriously talented acts. Like Hamilton, Ontario natives, Arkells.
If this is your first time hearing of the band, you might do well to check out their latest singles, “Leather Jacket” and “11:11”, though truth be told, there’s a lot of older gems like “Book Club”, “Where U Goin”, and “Heart of the City” that you should really listen to. You know what, while your at it, you might as well just familiarize yourself with their entire catalog.
I was fortunate enough to first become familiar with “Book Club” via Spotify’s “Weekly Discovery” feature before being introduced to “Leather Jacket” on Indie 88 many months later. The spectacular thing about the band is that their music is distinctly their own with no two songs sounding alike. There’s a diversity there that oftentimes goes undeveloped in many acts. It took weeks before I put together that “Book Club” and “Leather Jacket” were the same artist, but when I did, it all made sense. It’s that kind of variety that keeps the listener on their toes, while still offering a consistently catchy, poignant, purposeful style.
When I had the opportunity to catch the band at this year’s SXSW, I was blown away. In a few moments I was taken from casual fan to “new favorite band” status, simply because they put on such a phenomenal live show. Too often we’re treated to unengaged and unappreciative performances, where even the band looks bored with their performance. But watching Arkells play their first set in a tiny, off-the-beaten path showcase, and then a large outdoor venue, I was struck with the same level of enthusiasm each time. Regardless of venue, of crowd size, of the incredibly hot Austin weather, the band performed with everything they had. They talked to their audience, they shot each other inside jokes through knowing smiles and on-stage banter. They looked like they were having an absolute blast on stage, and in turn, so did their audience.
Bottom line, if this band isn’t already on your radar, they absolutely need to be. With talent, passion, and drive like I saw in Austin last week, it won’t be long before the band breaks into the US, and trust me, you’re going to want to get familiar with them before then.