At first listen The Ax struck me as just another lo-fi, guitar/drum duo pushing a tiring gimmick that was more hip than substance. A second listen and I was nodding along most of the way. By the third, I was rocking out. That's a good sign.
Often enough, records that grab me immediately don't have the staying power of those that work a little to pique my interest. This record has real energy and urgency throughout, driven primarily by Adam Jelsing's front-of-the-beat drumming. Listen to how "Weak Creatures" batters along and then tell me I'm wrong.
I may change my mind, but the almost stoner rock riffs of this record remind me of early Nebula, with the garage-based grooves and the slightly off-tune, multi-tracked vocals and atypical jazz chords. The main differences—and they are almost deal breakers for me—are the lack of any scorching leads and the bottom anchor of a bass guitar. My ears scream for both here.
Ultimately, this is one of those records that will work great a track or two at a time in a mix, but beginning to end is just a little too repetitive for my attention span.