The Divine Horsemen – Hot Rise of An Ice Cream Phoenix
At first, I was apprehensive to review this collection. I wondered where it played a role in Americana.
However, on closer listen, with its carefully constructed aggression, melody, exciting vocals with expressive potency. Seems old knives only need sharpening.
These L.A. musicians open with “Mystery Writers,” & glide along in an X, Del-Lords, & Dictators manner. Yet The Divine Horsemen had their own way of cooking. Their secret is the vocal contrast between the lovely voice of Julie Christensen (2nd acoustic guitar) & the authoritative voice of Chris Desjardins (Chris D).
Sound-wise, there’s moments of Concrete Blonde, Swimming Pool Q’s & latter-day Swans (when Michael Gira & Jarboe were more alt-country).
“Falling Forward,” is exceptional. Chiming layered guitars (Peter Andrus), steady drum attack by DJ Bonebrake (originally with X with Exene Cervenka) & bassist Bobby Permanent who adds acoustic guitar to 2 cuts.
The Doug Lacy accordion-driven “Mind Fever, Soul Fire,” steams in a solid 60s rock melody atmosphere with more of a Cervenka mist hanging over it than a Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders). Julie is just so diversified; her tone is lovely & angry at the same time.
Despite being an eclectic band from the 80s their lyrics are precise & original; the band despite maturity have not lost its creativity on Hot Rise of An Ice Cream Phoenix (In the Red-Drops Aug 20).
I would have thought in order to appreciate this I’d have to be 20 again. But no. This is got me moving in my leisure chair & I graduated from Jack Daniels to Balvenie. I discovered as well that it’s not always the music/lyric that attracts in this music. But as “Handful of Sand,” demonstrates it’s the unified drive of the musicians that captivates. The vocal stylings used on the cover of Tim Lee/Susan Bauer Lee’s “Any Day Now,” is also good.
I’m from the 60s so I was fascinated by the wonderful vocal unity of Grace Slick & Paul Kanter on the early Jefferson Airplane. On “25th Floor,” (Patti Smith-Ivan Kral song) the Divine Horsemen give it a B-52’s vocal spin acrobatically. Nice touch. The energy level is like a pot of hot water boiling over the stove. Nice crunchy guitars like an out-of-control sled down a steep hill.
“Strangers,” with Doug Lacy’s piano & Andrus’ guitars is ripe. “Barefoot in the Streets,” is lovely. “Stony Path,” & “Love Cannot Die,” conclude the LP & is especially irresistible to the end. The reason this band deserves to be in this publication.
The 13-cut, 1 hour-13-minute CD preserves lessons in R&R younger musicians should aspire to. R&R is not “Eye of the Tiger.” These border-line Social Security rockers, like the Rolling Stones, continue to thrill. They have grit, muscle & potency.
My best compliment — I’ll be waiting for more.
B&W Photo: FLD
Produced by Chris D & Craig Parker Adams. Available @ Bandcamp & https://divinehorsemen.com/