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Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse

I've had achy tooth problems all week, and I've been in a mood to take the head off anyone I've talked to. I might've done a lot more of that were it not for the periodic comic relief of the very smart, very fun, vodka-gimlet-eyed music of this dumb-named eight-piece from New York City.

Oh, and their lyrics are just R-rated enough to fit neatly into a foul mood.

This is not loud, mad music, though, nor is it as frivolously confrontational as the band name, or the equally stupid cover art. Rather, it's a collection of intelligently observant and wryly amusing pop/rock/punk takes on gender politics (read: sex and its complications), the state of the United States (especially Connecticut) and certain everyday characters and their quirks. All are set in fine musicianship, with Brian Wilson-worthy harmonies and imaginative arrangements. (The timely entry of horns on "Do Me" made me laugh out loud.)

Lead singer Risa Mickenberg's voice is peculiar in a way that's perfectly suited to the lyrics, all written by Mickenberg with guitarist/vocalist Joel Shelton. Favorite track: "Vampire Girls"--fascinating women who only know what ex-boyfriends taught them about, e.g "Syd Barrett, Frank Zappa, GTOs, Stratacastors (sic), Noam Chomsky, Iggy Pop, Zabrisky (sic) Point, PhotoShop, Orson Welles, baseball, sex, Burroughs, Bukowski, Malcolm X."

If you read and loved A Confederacy of Dunces or A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, this record is for you, especially if you're having a bad day. The CD is available via cdbaby.com.

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