Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man

Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man

Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man

In my apartment there are only three artists which my wife has banned from being played in her presence. Bonnie Prince Billy, Peste Noire and Andrew Jackson Jihad have all, somehow, made it on a metaphysical shit list. (Oddly enough Radiohead was number 4 but there must be a line drawn somewhere.) The reason for this musical embargo does not rest in any instrumental quality rather the quality of each artist’s voice. While I do not understand how someone can be unaffected by the remorse in William Oldham’s voice or moved to tears by La sale Famine de Valfunde’s screech, I can sort of see the rational behind Andrew Jackson Jihad. In fact, I am always two steps away from disliking the fuck out this band. If a listener is not prepared for acerbic folk punk, which lies sideward on convention, I can see where problems would arise.

Birthed in 2005 with Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns, Andrew Jackson Jihad was the living definition of folk punk. Whether adding Americana influences to punk or making folk more grimy, the band released multiple records which were met with praise as well as prohibition in my apartment. One of the reasons for this praise was centered around Sean Bonnette’s untrained voice combined with brutally frank lyrics. The apex of this combination can be heard on 2006’s People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World as well as 2008’s Only God Can Judge Me EP. Since that time, Andrew Jackson Jihad has been moving away from the basement sound which has come to define the small subset of the folk and punk genre. 2011 sees the release of Knife Man, a record which attempts to break many of the conventions originally defined by Andrew Jackson Jihad.

Anyone knowledgeable with Andrew Jackson Jihad should be familiar with the upright bass and acoustic guitar sound.  This sound can be heard throughout the many videos of the band playing in basements and parking lots. This is the sound which carried the bands most successful records. Since 2009’s Cant Maintain, the Andrew Jackson Jihad has been moving into electric territory which has not only changed the template but allowed the band to move into more experimental regions. This sound has also changed the live format drastically from the studio efforts. I hate to consider Knife Man an experimental record but it seems that I have few options.

The backbone of Andrew Jackson Jihad still rests in the lyrics of triumph, tragedy and profound observations in mundane activities.  The song “American Tune,” which sarcastically exposes the benefits of being a white American, could have worked in the raw, basement like atmosphere of earlier record but now does the same in the studio environment with a range of kazoo backing. The exchange of DIY recording techniques continues throughout the record even reaching folk punk anthems like “Skate Park” and “Back Pack.” It would be irresponsible of me to compare the work of Andrew Jackson Jihad to Bob Dylan’s 1965 electric Newport concert but I am going to do it anyway.Knife man is not a bad record, nor a good one it is just one of the many middles in a band
you have come to enjoy.

Andrew Jackson Jihad should be experienced by almost everyone, even my wife. The optimism mired with melancholy of each record painfully presented in common vernacular is magnificent. Knife Man is a turning point with the band to something else which has not been done before. New fans should start with older material while seasoned veterans will just have to endure the ride. I do not dislike it as much as accept it in the changing canon of a band who I have come to learn to hide.   It maybe a while before my wife comes around to greatness, but for now, I do not have a contemporary example rather a record which stands right before magnificence.

Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man – Track List
1. The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving
2. Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi
3. American Tune
4. Back Pack
5. Distance
6. Fucc the Devil
7. Hate, Rain on me
8. If you have Love in your Heart
9. No One
10. Sad Songs
11. Zombie by the Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad
12. People II 2: Still Peoplin?
13. Sorry Bro
14. Skate Park
15. Free Bird
16. Big Bird

Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2011-09-20T16:48:43-07:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

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