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The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer - Checkered Past

Self Release


Canadians Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers bring the blues kicking and screaming into the future under the guise of The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. The idiom gets a swift kick in the “wazoo” and what results from the fallen pieces being reassembled is something astounding. This CD is a combination of the blues as well as a reflection on it, ala another Canadian musical visionary Paul Reddick. This CD is the child of the duo, with no outside assistance. They handle all vocals and instrumentals, as well as the seamless production. Nothing here sounds haphazard or out-of-place. The lead vocals and outstanding harmonica playing are handled by Shawn, with Matthew providing everything else.

Everything gets underway with the “alternative-rock” cum blues under-pinnings the refreshingly noisy “Shake It”, bolstered by in command harp skills. “Wake Up”, which begins life sounding like the kickoff to The Cramps’ version of “Goo-Goo Muck”, morphs into a “retooling” of Blind Willie McTells’ immortal “Statesboro Blues”. “Roll With The Punches” features a sturdy guitar hook courtesy of Matthew. “I try rollin” with the punches, but the punches keep rollin’ me”. Slide guitar and harp battle it out “stop-and-start” style in “Get Out”. A haunting gospel motif is conjured up in “Are You Listening Lord?”. Here and throughout this CD, Shawn’s harmonica work is a force to behold as it breathes life into each tune. Willie Dixon’s “Mellow Down Easy”, a song associated with Little Walter, is dusted off and revitalized with echoed vocals. A reggae beat enhances the bouncy strains of “Too Late Virginia”. “Chevrolet”, which first saw life as “Can I Do It For You”, as performed and written by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie and later renamed “Hey Gyp” by none other than Donavan appears here as a harp-guitar energized “country-blues”. Most folks probably know it as a concert staple of Eric Burdon during his stint with the Animals. Shawn’s vocal really shines here. “Burning Bridges” closes out things with its pleasing “jingly-jangly” noise.

Is it traditional blues? Is it blues at all at times? You decide. The only thing that I am sure of that this is the stuff that a jaded reviewer lives for…A refreshing and invigorating listen every time it graces your CD player. It’s a hell of a great listen. These guys have really created something here that deserves a wider audience. It should have appeal to blues fans, as well as to lovers of well-conceived music. Oh…Did I mention that I LOVE this CD?

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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