Andy Shernoff

On the First Day, Man Created God

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There's a long, rich history of music created to celebrate or define spiritual beliefs, but one group has usually been left out of this tradition: atheists. There's a relatively small repertoire of songs celebrating the lack of belief in a supreme being (even smaller when you count out metal and punk acts), so former Dictators leader Andy Shernoff is stepping forward to be America's leading atheist songwriter with his EP On the First Day, Man Created God. The EP's four tunes all deal in one way or another with Shernoff's issues with religious faith (in particular Christianity), with some songs relatively serious and introspective ("Skeptical" and "Fisher of Men") while others are clearly meant to be satiric ("Are You Ready to Rapture" and "Get on Your Knees for Jesus"). Between his years in the Dictators and the Master Plan and his excellent 2012 EP Don't Fade Away, Shernoff's bona fides as a songwriter and producer are well established, and the tunes here are up to his usual standards: clever and engaging, with the music arranged and committed to plastic with skill and imagination throughout. The lyrics, however, are a matter of taste; even those who have serious doubts about Christianity might groan at "Are You Ready to Rapture" and its tale of "the Zombie Jew" and the many people and things he's purported to hate, and the double-entendre lyrics of "Get on Your Knees for Jesus" are crushingly obvious even when the jokes almost work. Easily the best tune here is "Skeptical," the one that spends the least amount of time taking cheap shots at religion, instead examining the reasoning behind Shernoff's status as a confirmed doubter. It's smart and thoughtful, and a batch of songs in the same vein might make for a great record, but considering that Andy Shernoff has written some of the funniest great rock songs ever, the great paradox is On the First Day, Man Created God stumbles most when the guy is trying hardest to get a laugh.

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