Having supported St. Paul & The Broken Bones at the O2 Forum in London and other UK dates in early 2017, Vancouver based blues/Americana duo The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer returned in September playing their own shows to coincide with the UK release of current album ‘Apocalipstick’.
This was followed in early 2018 by a new, non-album single entitled ‘Hard On Things’, a classy, retro slab of R&B, blues, soul and rock.
The band’s appearance at The Louisiana will be their third visit to Bristol and signals the start of the fourth annual River Town Festival in the city. Other shows will include sets by stars including Graham Nash, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle and Josh Rouse.
Armed with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road-worn Telecaster, Shawn Hall (The Harpoonist) and Matthew Rogers (The Axe Murderer) kick out raw and primal blues while electrifying the genre with a lightning bolt of new life. Hall and Rogers limit their sound to whatever they can play between them, using only their mouths, hands and feet. Hall provides soul-tinged vocals and blues harmonica, while Rogers simultaneously lets rip on guitar and foot percussion.
These days it feels like our world is on the verge of collapse. But it’s with near-end times in the breeze that we plunge deeper into the pleasures of sex, revelry and entertainment. ‘Apocalipstick’ begins with the doom-laden warning call of ‘Get Ready. Set to a contrastingly bouncy drumbeat, Shawn Hall alerts us to “Get ready for the hard times / Get ready for the heavy load / Get ready for the who knows what”.
“Ben Rogers [guest vocalist] first sang ‘Get Ready’ to us by the piano in the basement of my home,” says Hall. “It was instantly familiar to us and embodied this loose campfire-like group vocal thing, which carried right into the recording sessions. The beauty of this song is the impression of hopefulness it leaves you while layered in a bed of chaos.” With the fate of the world certainly in question, ‘Apocalipstick’ delves into lustful begging with ‘Pretty Please’, summons total heartbreak in ‘Treat Me Kind’, while ‘Nancy’ and ‘Forever Fool’ touch on themes of bullying and revenge.
Framed by psychedelic landscapes and world-ending jam-outs, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer ignite the gritty, blues-rock grooves they have been acclaimed for by adding drummer John Raham (The Be Good Tanyas) and keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst (The Deep Dark Woods) into the melting pot as well as the golden voices of Dawn Pemberton, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks (Begonia), Ben Rogers, Khari Wendell McClelland, Erik Nielsen and Ricardo Khayatte. Add equal parts soulful, sweaty vocals and biting guitar and you have an album perfect for any doomsday date-night.