Divine Horsemen - Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Fronted by singers Chris Desjardins and Julie Christensen, Divine Horsemen have not released new music for more than 30-years. That means that all but a lucky few will not be familiar with their sound which is akin to that of X in a couple of ways, both in that they have the male/female lead vocalist balance and their penchant for infusing punk leanings into an Americana sound. Actually Divine Horsemen can be thought of as part of the extended X family; X members John Doe, DJ Bonebrake and Dave Alvin were all in Desjardins' band the Flesh Eaters and Bonebrake is currently the drummer for Divine Horsemen. The album starts with Christensen and Desjardins both handling lead vocals on "Mystery Riders," a cut that boogies to a Crazy Horse vibe while "Falling Forward" recalls the sound of early Jefferson Airplane. Desjardins' vocals, on the nervous or shaky side throughout, are particularly intriguing on "Ice Cream Phoenix" as he sings over acoustic guitar by Peter Andrus; Christensen though adds stability to the vocals with her verses. Andrus dials up the twang on rocker "25th Floor" where a bit of swamp funk creeps into the song, plays Neil Young-like guitar on "Strangers" and switches back to acoustic for the folksy "No Evil Star." Some may hear Dire Straits in the album's most fervent rocker "Stony Path" but despite all the little nods to other bands here, Christensen and Desjardins have a sound all their own and it is one you won't find anywhere else. Was it worth waiting 33-years for? Oh hell yes. Divine Horsemen is rounded out by bass man Bobby Permanent; guest player Doug Lacy adds keyboards, accordion and strings.

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