The first time audiences lay eyes on Vancouver duo the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer's live setup can be jarring, with just two people tasked with producing a full band's worth of noise. Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers might not look like very imposing, but they expel a hell of a lot of sound for a couple of dudes with a harmonica, guitar and some impressively finagled foot-percussion.
That trend continues on new album Apocalipstick, a toe-tapping record that explores the boundaries of boisterous blues jams and ripping fuzz tones via busy arrangements and a varied palette of tones. There are some stripped-down tunes in the 13-song track list, but many of them are layered with fiery grooves and intertwining melodies.
The harp-driven "Pretty Please" is a headbanging barnburner that features Hall and Rogers trading solos; it's a spirited track that shows off the best of the band's energetic writing. The following track, "Treat Me Kind," is a sleepy acoustic cut with group choruses and sauntering harmonica passages. It adds a welcome balance to the high-octane cuts that keeps the album from flying off the rails.
Hall and Rogers are joined by several vocalists on the record, and the pair share production duty with John Raham. The result is a diverse and dynamic album reminiscent of the band's acclaimed live performances. Apocalipstick is a sonic triumph, and is sure to become a favourite in the band's discography. (Tonic)