Andrew Jackson Jihad

Knife Man

Written by: TL on 13/03/2012 11:22:02

Although they shy away from the tag 'Folk punk' on their facebook page, listening to the fourth LP, "Knife Man", by Phoenix, AZ quintet Andrew Jackson Jihad, it's hard to not want to use the term for their music, which does indeed lean back and forth between folksy, acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, and more noisy, low-fi garage-y punk rock. However, seeing as the band have a pretty cool name, maybe I'll go ahead and cater to their wishes of being labelled merely 'acoustic rock'.

On "Knife Man" - the first of the band's albums I've ever heard I must admit - the music does not so much reinvent any wheels, as it merely fuses acoustic, country/folk passages with eruptions of angry punk-rock that sound about as fuzzy and loose as an old Ramones record. This may hold some charm, but the centre of attention is clearly the borderline off-tune singing, the whiny sound of which calls to mind other singers like Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra) and Patrick Stickles (Titus Andronicus) - except the full on bitterness that permeates Andrew Jackson Jihad's content matter, amazingly, makes all of those guys seem like an awful cheerful lot.

Basically this band's main strength is their ability to wrap cheeky phrases around some thoroughly bitter, depressed observations. In this sense they are indeed very fuckin' punk, obsessively pointing out and complaining about anything and everything around them. It's the defining characteristic of this record, and I have a hard time figuring out if it's a good or a bad one. Considering myself a fairly positive dude, these 16 tracks of constant moping and moaning almost inevitably test my patience, with Andrew Jackson Jihad seeming like those dorks in the corner of the party, who won't stop complaining about everything, persistently killing everybody else's buzz.

On the flipside it clearly is this, the full frontal encounter with negativity, along with the country/punk fusion, that makes "Knife Party" a record you will probably easily remember among others from last year, and one you will probably not hear a lot of things that sound similar to. So while songs like "Distance" make me want to tell these guys to just shut up and cheer up, I've got to admit that the almost sardonic humour of others, like "American Tune" and "Zombie by The Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad" win on repeat listens, and while I don't hope to be so bummed as to listen through the entire 16 cuts very often on my own, I think I'm forced to recognise "Knife Man" as the work of a band that is capable of writing some highly recognisable songs.

Download: American Tune, Hate, Rain On Me; Zombie by The Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad;
For The Fans Of: old Conor Oberst material, Titus Andronicus, complaining a lot about everything
Listen: facebook.com/andrewjacksonjihad

Release Date 20.09.2011
Asian Man Records

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