The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer


(Tonic Records)

Described as a ‘Canadian alt/blues-rock duo’, this act played some UK dates a few weeks ago before moving to Europe to perform there. I had the advantage of catching them with friends – notwithstanding local directional ‘advice’ – in an obscure village hostelry down a very long dark lane as they fitted in an extra show in deepest Sussex. They had no trouble charming the crowd. Their sound is based upon the basic but insistent electric guitar sound and foot drum stomp of The Axe Murderer and the vocals and harmonica of The Harpoonist..a sort of Vancouver-based Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee for The Slacker Generation. At times in performance they put me in mind of Mungo Jerry and Don Partridge.

Shawn and Roger kick off with Get Ready with reverby harp and a crisp beat plus a spirited vocal recorded with rather boomy halo. Nancy uses a Free style tempo, cooing Hammond in the mix and it’s rather catchy with Beatlesy bass. Forever Fool Is a softer piece, guitar chording over a loping tempo and maybe the best vocal on the set, a sort of clipped Jagger phrasing employed.

I’m Back is almost pastoral with treated/amp tremelo’d guitar then blasting harp sound very Beat Boom; Pretty Please is a harp-led rocker I remember from the show, the ghost of Billy Boy Arnold hangs overhead. Treat Me Kind is slow and folky, the voice sounding a tad overdone. Running has an unusual pacing, almost reggae but not quite and a nice shantytown melody, distant echoes of The Band.

Promises, Promises puts the piano of a pal in the backdrop and a quasi Obla Di tempo; Save Me From Another Day tries a quirky lope with some Sharp harp and a catchy chorus. Marianne is uptempo, a touch of wah guitar and a conspiratorial vocal. I almost expected Elvis Costello to start singing…

Father’s Son goes for a soul vibe and is my favourite cut on the record. The words are clear and the song has good definition, could use some electric piano. Next up is Situate Yourself starts as a spooky old-timey blues then we are suddenly into Fragile with its chorale and spy film chord construction.

To be frank these songs don’t knock me out on this set but they do have something good happening when they hit a stage. Surely an inspired act for a festival roster?

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks Gary)

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer's new album 'Apocalipstick' is out now on Tonic Records.

For more information visit the band's official website here:

The Harpoonist and Axe Murderer