Love Axe is (from left):
“A fever-dream album of gargantuan ambition that brings so much to the proverbial table that its proverbial legs would give out from under it. Phenomenomenons is an early album of the year contender and it deserves to be savored by all the people it could easily please.” – Sputnik Music
“With a penchant for bittersweet epics and explosive codas, Love Axe is a study in boiling down just what makes indie rock work.” – Raven Sings The Blues
“Straight up pop gems.” – Detroit Gorilla
“Love Axe is a shining example of how digital music is not only changing the way people listen to music, but also how they create it.” – Friday Music Blog
“A record that sounds like you put a whole lot of powerpop, indie, heartbreak, and elapsed time into a blender and then spread it out suuuuuper smoothly across 12 tracks and 60 minutes.” – Times Ain’t That Rough
“This year’s folk anthem album of the month, maybe [of the] year.” – New Band Day
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Chris Hatfield (not the astronaut….though they have met) escaped the Michigan peninsula after getting his master’s in music and hauled cross-country to Oakland, California, where he lived on an old commune site, complete with an abandoned bomb shelter. He’d left his former band (Mt. Pleasant’s Those Transatlantics) to focus on Love Axe in earnest. At first obsessively writing and recording thirty-some songs amid the Redwoods by himself, he soon grouped up with guitarist Erik Cline, bassist Joelle Barrios (Pagan Saints), and drummer Mike Ambs (Burning Brides, Marah), which is the current and permanent lineup for Love Axe, now based in Los Angeles.
The character of Love Axe resides in a pop-music space with melodies and transitions that ring with a composer’s artistry—these songs are too advanced to be pop, yet they are, and they’re really catchy. And throughout, there’s a scratch at the darker side, like a charmingly apocalyptic OKCupid profile. Their second full-length release, South Dakota, is the culmination of pop, psych, and golden-era indie influences. Beginning with tracks like “Only Gonna Tear You Apart” and “Such a Waste of a Good Thing,” hooks and riffs reflect influences from Spoon and Sloan. “Please” and “All That’s Gold Will Turn to Black (Part 2)” turn to a gravediggers chorus of Ween-worthy funeral-folk, while, later, softly anthemic love songs declare, “The past is full of strange, evil things that can’t be blamed for your deeds.” Setting South Dakota apart is its focus on the artistry, instrumentation, and production, a painstaking process that yields an album to dance to on your big romantic date at the apocalypse.