Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man
Record Label: Asian Man
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Lost in the jungle, you'd never know what to expect: anaconda attacks, red flaming arrows, and unidentifiable creatures that creep in the moonlight. Somewhere in the kooky maze of shenanigans, there's a duo sneaking around by way of Phoenix, Arizona. That duo is a rare species known as Andrew Jackson Jihad (a folk outfit comprised of Sean Bonette and Ben Gallaty, who are surrounded by other musicians from time to time). And although their latest effort is entitled Knife Man, they won't be slicing anyone with the proverbial knife. Not yet, at least.
As Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns introduced quirky bare-bones folk, People Who Can Eat Are the Luckiest People in the World toyed with jack-in-the-box Nazis and cannibals poised to bring eventual doom, and its successor, Can't Maintain, got down and dirty with a lusty sax and kazoo hypnotisms. The band's album progression mirrored an adventurous scaling of Machu Picchu, in the sense that rhythm sections and more fully-rounded compositions were visible flag points in each production milestone.
Knife Man is no exception to the pattern of progression. In sixteen musical tales, it semi-pawns acoustics for a distorted makeover, ghostly experimental effects, and fires conundrums that are direct and personable. And as always, it comes with a cherry of nutty humor on top (see short opener "Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving" and "Zombie by the Cranberries by AJJ" for hints). Acoustic number "Fucc The Devil" immediately boards the sexual expletives train making it opportune to take a fun jab at one of the Devil's many orifices.
If the poppy jingle that's patriotically entitled "American Tune" doesn't make an obvious enough lyrical expectation, it echoes similarities to "Fuck White People" (Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns), with lines such as "if I see a penny on the ground, I leave it alone and fucking flip it/I'm a straight white male in America, I got all the luck I need," nailing articulate diatribes on skin color, gender, and sexual orientation to the walls.
From an instrument perspective, the bizarre musical themes expressed throughout the album (slower-paced "No One" showcases Bonnette's wide-ranging bluesy pipes, and "Sad Songs" cues in a cowboy saloon-era style intermission) pour more than sensible cohesion into their tell-all narratives on violence, destitution, apathy and spiritual sadism via clunky organs, electric pianos, mandolins, slide guitars, unruly brass appearances, and metronomic washboards.
Knife Man is synonymous to the gritted teeth and theatrical story lining of a clever manic depressive duo on a wild ride of political blindsiding and folk-rock maturity.
It's for sure a major improvement from their last albums, but I'm an old curmudgeon who adores People Who Can Eat and the rawer production. New album's excellent for sure. His lyrics are always praise worthy.
I've been a fan of these guys for quite awhile. I think both of their full lengths are fantastic. Despite a few of the ratings being average, it seems as though this sounds like Can't Maintain, only better. So I'm more then excited.
Never really know what to expect from these guys (aside from the clever lyrics and folky undertones) -- but I feel they're extremely diverse when it comes to the other instruments. I'm looking forward to seeing what new things they've implemented this time around.
Also... They have a song called Free Bird? Genius!