A lot of the bands at this year's M for Montreal festival seemed to have some sort of schtick, whether it was a wild lead singer who jumped into the crowd, guitarists prone to rock star posing, or an impressive audio-visual backdrop. Hamilton, Ontario five-piece Arkells had no schtick, but no other band at the fest had as many memorable songs to my virgin ears as them. Reminiscent of '80s blue collar heartland rock (be it The Boss or the Mats) Arkell's songs traded flash for big chords, bigger hooks and instantly catchy "hey hey hey" choruses. You'll be lucky to get half the songs on their debut, Jackson Square, out of your head after the first listen — even if that first listen is when you see them live. Good songs trump style anyday.
MP3: Arkells – John Lennon (buy Jackson Square from Amazon Canada)