Here's a strange one for Christmas: The recurring slogan on this release is "Two thousand years in the tomb, nine months in the womb." Produced and co-written by slick, intellectual, New York agit-pop artist Ron English, this concept album features fascinating contributions by such musicians as Mojo Nixon, Phoebe Legere, Railroad Jerk, Whammo and the Reverend Vince Anderson. English also manages to get a sterling performance from his oft-troubled Christian associate in Austin, Texas, pop savant Daniel Johnston. While the theme revolves around the second coming of Christ, these songs contain some fairly bold statements questioning contemporary Christian dogma and offering alternative perspectives on religious faith. While the music itself ranges from traditional gospel to outrageous hard rock to evocative folk and sophisticated pop, it's the diverse vocal cameos that result in a most celebratory aesthetic.
Reverend Vince provides a couple of Tom Waits-like performances and Ms. Legere's exhibitionistic singing brings things back to the church in no uncertain terms. Intentionally flirting with the threat of blasphemy, this disc is often irreverent but ultimately optimistic. Whether questioning the gender of Christ upon the return or commenting on organized religion's inevitable interface with corporate America, Revelations II is thought-provoking, controversial and ultimately entertaining.
Mitch Myers writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.