Shawn Hall & Matthew Rogers have long expanded the touring version of the duo with backup singers, keyboards and drums. They’ve also been adding more and more studio FX and players to the albums. It’s such a good band name, though, that they haven’t changed that. The end result here is a fascinating new disc that some might think is quite far from what we normally think of as blues. And yet one song, “Father’s Son” was the First Runner Up in the Cobalt Songwriting competition. Perhaps the clue lies in the attention-grabbing CD title & cover art. Apocalipstick deals with the search for companionship in a world on the verge of collapse: ‘It’s with near-end times in the breeze that we plunge deeper into the pleasures of sex, revelry and entertainment’. First the set up, “Get Ready (for Hard Times)” has Harpoonist Hall singing the ‘doom-laden warning call’. He plays harp and there’s some very Stones-ish guitar from Rogers but there’s a whole lot of electronics plus that chorus. Under all that, we hear some nice, bluesy changes. These are the components throughout the thirteen songs and the various combinations they’ve come up with will astound you. Companionship and other traditional blues themes are still the meat of the album. “Forever Fool” has some very nice R&B touches. The ‘lustful begging’ of “Pretty Please” is set to some primal rock n’ roll. “Treat Me Kind” is a tender acoustic breakup song. “Running” leans towards reggae. “Promises, Promises” has a toe-tapping groove. The chorus is a most prominent aspect of the overall sound, what it gets to sing is extremely important. The most creative example is “Father’s Son”, a masterfully orchestrated song. The chorus is: Dawn Pemberton, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks, Ben Rogers, Khari Wendell McClelland, Erik Nielsen and Ricardo Khayatte. John Raham is on drums and Geoff Hilhorst keys with Shawn Hall & Matthew Rogers doing all the rest. The press release calls their music ‘psychedelic landscapes and world-ending jam-outs’ but everything here is carefully arranged by artists who know what they’re after. The Apocalipstick Tour is currently in this part of the country and will hit Lee’s Palace on April 13 and Mills Hardware in Hamilton on April 15 before heading back out west. How they play these songs live will be most interesting as will your thoughts on the subject matter. The web site is www.harpoonistaxemurderer.com.

John’s Blues Picks March 2017 – Doug Cox & Sam Hurrie
John's Blues Picks March 2017 - Steve Strongman