Published Jun 16, 2014Two earlier albums and a rep for fiery live performances have made Vancouver blues duo the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer faves on the fest circuit. Their moniker is based on slang terms for their core instruments, the harmonica/harp of singer Shawn Hall and the guitar/axe of Matthew Rogers. To term this a duo record is misleading though, for it has a full-blooded sound boosted by female backing singers and keyboardist Tom Heuckendorff and, as on an album highlight "My Paradise," a horn section. The result is a gritty and funky treat, with Rogers also contributing crisp yet not slick production.
Hall's vocals sometimes suggest John Hiatt, and opening cut "Black And Blue" even has a hint of Sting in there. As with the likes of kindred sprits the Black Keys and Jack White, TH&TAM have a retro-based sound infused with enough passion and energy that it still sounds fresh. The 14 strong original compositions clock in at an average of three-and-a-half minutes each, but occasionally certain grooves are extended just a touch too long. Generally, however, tempos, tones and styles are mixed up just enough to retain your interest. "Feel Me Now," for instance, is more R&B than straight blues. This album is sure to provide a whale of a good time at patio parties. (Independent)