Review Summary: Sorry guys, here's a shitty review.
Andrew Jackson Jihad has always been quite the interesting duo. Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty have been playing guitar-and-bass folk-punk tunes since the early 2000’s, and have garnered quite the devoted fan base in the process.
It’s not hard to see why, with their infectiously catchy and uptempo interplay between acoustic guitar and upright bass combined with endlessly witty lyrics ranging in topic from religion, how cool smoking makes you, Sean’s abusive father, and how much hipsters and white people suck. AJJ carved out their very specific niche with their first few full length albums and numerous DIY releases.
2008 saw the duo moving away from their sound, not in a stylistic way, but by incorporating electric guitar and the occasional drum beat into the mix, much to the chagrin of pretentious idiots everywhere. 2011 brings a new album from Andrew Jackson Jihad, and with it the listener finds the band embracing the full-band sound even more, while still staying true to their wacky folk-punk roots.
Knife Man is very much an Andrew Jackson Jihad album, regardless of how much electric guitar and drumming permeates the album. Over the album’s 44 minutes and 16 tracks, there is an even mix of the acoustic Americana tunes and the newer full-band centric jams. The lyrics are still as witty, sarcastic, and cruel as ever, it’s still a knee-slappin’ romp in the hay, and the duo manages to put out their best release in the process.
Whether it’s the kazoo backed “American Tune,” a humorous take on how straight white males dominate America, the obvious tip of the hat to The Ramones that “Distance” is, the incredibly tongue in cheek “Sad Songs,” or the epic, heart-wrenching closer “Big Bird,” AJJ runs the gamut of their past catalog and their many influences, managing to enthrall the listener throughout the entirety of the album.
Knife Man’s finest moments are too numerous to point out every one, but the most memorable come in the form of those witty one-liners that AJJ fans have come to expect, and boy do they deliver. In “Distance,” Sean asserts that “He hates whiny f**kin’ songs like this, but I can’t afford a therapist. Sorry guys, here’s a solo!”
The lyrical content of Knife Man is so fascinating in that it conveys so many emotions so perfectly, often changing numerous times within a single song. “Fucc the Devil” starts out humorously and sardonically, but ends emphatically, Sean noting that “I wanna go away for a while, cause the things that I have seen are turning me into a ***ty human being.”
Andrew Jackson Jihad’s talents are on full display here, and Knife Man is never short of sarcastic wit, heartfelt poetic waxing, and catchy folk-punk ditties, of both the electric and acoustic varieties, and even if “folk” or “punk” really don’t sound too enticing to you, I suggest you pick up Knife Man and give it a spin, you may be surprised.