Canadians Max the Axe are back with a new EP, dedicated to the Bavarian festival of the tenth month. Members Eric Litwiller, Mike Koutis, Dave Haslam and Mike Mitchell all return, bringing their A-game as usual.
The EP kicks off with opener “Pygmy Blowdart”, and, yep, the band still rule. All the familiar trappings of a Max the Axe song are here, but in a fresh concoction. Litwiller’s vocals are the most apparent, but the best of the band are as solid as ever, with a one-two punch of bass and guitar solo being another highlight. Taking things with just a tad less intensity than the other two songs on here, the song is a nice reintroduction to the band, as we slip back into the comfortable awesomeness of the style that began for these ears with Status Electric.
But moving on, this EP gets better as it goes, let me tell you. The band heavy things up a bit as they go into song two, a cover of Black Flag’s “Thirsty and Miserable”. The band’s cover sits perfectly at home next to their original material. There’s plenty of riff, beat and powerful vocals to go around, with a more punkish slant this time around.
And now we get to the centerpiece of the EP, the titular “Oktoberfest Cheer”. I’ve always said that Max’s songs are so good because he has cracked the secret to writing effective songs. He’s isolated the precise elements that need to be right, jettisoned everything else, and turned the good stuff up to 11.
However, “Oktoberfest Cheer” shows that the straightforwardness of previous Max the Axe songs are not due to a lack of talent. Max can certainly write songs with more pizazz, and the closing song on this EP is proof that they rule as much as his regular style. The song itself strikes me as sort of the spiritual successor to “Uptite Friday Night”, with Litwiller taking us on a fun romp through the aforementioned Oktoberfest, featuring some light accordion (courtesy of guest musician Catherine Thompson) and some fun ambient noises. And fear not, this is still a Max the Axe song through a through. Litwiller’s power and range is shown off as Max riffs away with the rest of the band.
A very welcome return to recorded music by the Canadian Quartet, this EP will satisfy everything an existing Max the Axe fan would want from them, and then give them some stuff they didn’t even know they wanted.
Now we just need a live album.