With the recent attention that Arkells are getting with their song “Leather Jacket”, I realized that a review of the album was long overdue. Listening through the band’s latest release – a 2014 album – “High Noon” - it’s not a huge stretch away from their previous two albums at its core, but with Tony Hoffer producing the album, it’s a huge step up sonically. The sound is leaps and bounds ahead of the band’s previous two albums.
The album sounds great and I love everything on it, but something kept getting my attention while listening through the album. There have been a lot of albums where bands sound extremely close to their influences. The Killers on “Sam’s Town” sounds like a Bruce Springsteen album – that sticks out immediately. With Arkells and “High Noon”, the band has a record that sounds like an ode to Billy Joel. This isn’t a bad thing. It actually makes the album ridiculously enjoyable.
Where does the likeness to Billy Joel come in on “High Noon”? For starters, Arkells are a very piano-driven act and you can hear all kinds of really intriguing key work here; there’s lots of stuff that sounds like grand piano and a lot of other keys that sound really terrific. The other connection to Joel on the album comes with Max Kerman’s vocal. His delivery, and a large chunk of the songs on the album have melodies akin to Billy Joel’s, some of these songs have inspired rhythm lines accompanying them - some don’t.
This album might sound like an ode to Billy Joel, but as a fan of that era of music – I enjoyed it immensely. The only songs that I really couldn’t find that connection on are, strangely enough, the first two songs on the record. The Celtic-vibed “Fake Money” and the second song on the album, a song that reminds me a lot of “Summer of ‘69” – “Come to Light.” There’s no real likeness there, but they’re both awesome songs too. I love “High Noon”, in fact it goes on my list of top 100 albums – maybe ever. It’s a great record that doesn’t have a single weak moment on it. If you’re a fan of the band already then you know how great it is. If you’re late to the party like me, I suggest you give it a listen. The odds say that you’ll love what you hear.