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Old 10-10-2014, 01:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Andrew Jackson Jihad - Christmas Island

Before I get into the full review I want to provide some background for those who don't know. Andrew Jackson Jihad is a Phoenix, Arizona based band comprised of duo; guitarist Sean Bonnette and bassist Ben Gallaty. Formed in 2004 they're early material is categorized as being folk-punk specifically they're split with Ghost Mice, first two albums Candy Cigarettes And Cap Guns, People Who Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World, and parts of they're 2009 album Can't Maintain. This was a turning point for them though with Can't Maintain introducing an expanded instrumentation adding prominent electric guitar, piano, and strings. 2011 saw the release of Knife Man and it was the mist ambitious outing yet taking everything from the past 7 years and perfecting and expanding on them. Again further instrumentation was added including organs, keyborads, and synths. On the following tour the duo expanded to a full 5 person lineup adding in second guitar player and keyboardist Preston Bryant, drummer Deacon Batchelor, and chello player Mark Glick. After a small hiatus, 2014 gives us the album Christmas Island.

Christmas Island is a change of pace first off discarding for the most part many of the punk elements that defined much of Knife Man and Can't Maintain. Instead we see AJJ slowing down musically for most of the tracks taking time to let the melody sink in more and yet again expanding the instrumentation (a trend dating back to even People). This time we see further uses of keyboards and synths (i.e Coffin Dance; Do, Re, and Me; and Rock Out In My Dreams), as well as strings (i.e Linda Rondstadt). But above all else it is a change of pace for singer and guitar player Sean Bonnette. Sean's lyrics are defined by themes of loss and sadness sung and detailed in the most hilarious way possible. On past albums we saw horrible scenes of poverty, rasicm, sexism, family issues, personal insecurities, politics, homeless, etc. Sean rest assured had something bad to say about it although it would be presented I in a way that no matter what would make you laugh. On Christmas Island the lyrics are sillier than ever and at the same time more personal than ever, but this dies not go without some well thought out themes. On Temple Grandin, Sean sings about blind, deaf and dumb in some of the best metaphors I've ever heard that make me laugh every time while also ranting about how horrible the things really are. On Linda Rondstadt, Sean tells us about this piece in a museum witch has made him break down crying. And on Angel Of Death (an extremely self-depricating song) he talkes about himself saying that he's all these horrible thhingd , while creating extremely vivid scenarios along the way (especially a certain verse about a kid whose name is most likely Cody). Gone is the blood curling imagery, gone are some of the extremely expletive laden lyrics that took up much of their early albums. This is most likely because they're all growing up and with that cokes maturing and that's what we see on Christmas Island a maturing musically, lyrically, production. We see a huge leap forward and while it had its flaws noticiably on Best Friend, and the oddly western Deathlessness it comes together as an album with a cohesive sound that changes enough to never get samey. There are no longer the false starts that encapsulated the lo-fi charms of they're early albums. And come the crisp near perfectionist detail put into each song.

All in all I've had this album to listen to for a long time and its grown on me a lot. And while I would not put in the category of classic yet I will say they are getting close to their "classic" album.

HIGHLIGHTS: Temple Grandin, Getting Naked Playing With Guns, Linda Rondstadt, Temple Grandin Too, and Angel Of Death

LOWPOINTS: Best Friend, and Deathlessness

Overall score: 8/10

Last edited by Machine; 10-10-2014 at 01:01 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-08-2014, 01:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Temple Grandin was pretty cool, but I can't help but feel like it's a step down from Knife Man.
I might just have to let it sink in a bit more.
Regardless, nice review.
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