Review: The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess

Posted on: Saturday, Sep 27, 2014


The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess


Here’s a most enjoyable release from the Vancouver-based duo, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – one of many current fine albums out of a vibrant Canadian scene. Behind the most striking band name are Shawn Hall (vocals, harmonica and bass) and Matthew Rogers (guitar, drums, bass and keyboards), and together with a fine group of musicians assisting in the studio, they deliver a primitive, raw blues and more – with influences ranging from Willie Dixon to Danger Mouse and Jack White.

The generous 14 tracks on “A Real Fine Mess” are all co-writes from the duo, bar two with Ben Rogers, with the album being their third, after a self-titled release in 2008, which was followed by the acclaimed “Checkered Past” in 2011. The blues duo format is very much ‘in’ at the moment and, with the help of friends at times, these guys carry it off with some aplomb!

The music kicks off with the extremely hook-laden “Black And Blue”, driven by Matthew Rogers slide guitar and the harmonica of Shawn Hall, with help from the backing vocal ensemble of Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks and Dawn Pemberton; the following “Do Watcha” rides on more interplay between the slide guitar and harmonica, with a delicious funky groove. The stomping ‘kick-ass’ “Mama’s In The Backseat” is a stand-out – it fairly rattles along, and is dominated by Shawn Hall’s gutsy blues harmonica.

The slow blues of “Feel Me Now” takes the pace down a little, with Shawn Hall’s falsetto giving the tune a soulful edge, with the girl backing vocals prominent again. The Bo Diddley inspired “In And Out Of Love” changes the direction again; with more tough blues harmonica on “Cry A Little”, with another swaggering groove. The penultimate “Act Your Age” is a hard-driving number, which again highlights the chemistry between Messrs Hall and Rogers voices and respective instruments.

Fittingly this most engaging album ends with the title cut, “A Real Fine Mess” – another track with a soulful, almost electronic feel, again hook-laden, and hugely impressive.

I’m sure these guys will be a new name to many, but this is well worth checking out!


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