Hard and Horny

Jesus H. Christ! X$%?! The Apocalypse is coming!

Nagged by self-doubt, Jesus H. Christ & the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse—an eight-person horn-fired local group making glorious hard pop—couldn't decide whether their moniker was good or evil. "Some people thought it was the name of a Christian band," says singer Risa Mickenberg. With songs entitled "Connecticut's For Fucking," "Do Me," and "Vicki is a Pro," who?

"A lawyer," she says drily. A lawyer whose mind must be tossing upon the ocean, I might add. But people go broke fast underestimating the stupidity of pop music audiences, so Jesus H. Christers debated whether to stick with the fun but conventional mud-in-your-eye or something that sounds like another curse—the American People. Opinions deadlocked, matter and anti-matter threatened balancing annihilation, so they put it to their mailing list on MySpace. And the answer came back on electrons and ASCII: Jesus H. Christ and the Four Hornsmen should be written.

Anyway, the pumping brass on Jesus H. Christ's new CD—from theater players who have worked in things like The Producers, and Fiddler On the Roof—add lightning and jolt to Flo & Eddie/Turtles singles. In "Nipples," a song about semi-naked melons in the summer, voices swell in perfect "ba-ba-b-bop-ba" harmony. For "She's a Six," Ray Grappone's drums go kerthump, hands clap, horns and guitar drive a tank made of suntanned California riff right out of the speakers, and a middling gal hangs around with other chicks because the wrestling team is a bunch of dicks, her degrees of excellence marked in decimal increments. For "Vampire Girls," the 'bones and trumpets do a "Saturday In the Park"–like entry. It's a red herring, the tune erupting into hammering punkarama namechecking Saul Bellow, Philip K. Dick, and Jerry Lewis. Whew!

You want to dance to Jesus H. Christ music but there's no room in the city, says guitarist Joel Shelton. And a ballroom in Narragansett had the space but no one showed.

Jesus H. Christ started three years ago when Mickenberg was given Shelton (his brother Will plays bass) as an unusual birthday gift from her boyfriend, who suggested the musician help her write a song, called "I'm Disgusting (Will You Marry Me?)." The partners clicked, and kept on. Shelton added trombone and tuba, with the Four Hornsmen brought in last year. "It made us louder," he said, more wallop being good. The Hornsmen made the stages smaller, too—the shows, says Mickenberg, exciting with "spit flying onto the back of my neck."


Jesus H. Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse play Joe's Pub April 23.

 
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