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Content Any Way U Want It!

BG Falcon Media

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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

Media Review: “Christmas Island” by Andrew Jackson Jihad

Album | Grade: B+

Andrew Jackson Jihad is an extremely important band to me.

They’re really the first band I got into after I got to college, and when I think about it, they’ve largely informed how my taste in music has developed since then.

They’re definitely an odd group. Initially part of Arizona’s now highly regarded folk-punk scene, they sang secular songs about fearing God’s wrath and how painful long-distance relationships can be.

Like I said, they’re not for everyone.

With each passing album, however, the two-piece have strayed more and more from their acoustic roots. Each new album has increasingly featured Sean Bonnette hammering on an electric guitar rather than an acoustic, and recent releases have found Ben Gallaty plucking a bass guitar rather than an upright.

The band’s 2011 album “Knife Man” seemed at the time like the logical conclusion to this shifting aesthetic. A balanced mix of electric and acoustic.

AJJ’s new album “Christmas Island” is making me rethink that.

The first song I heard from the new album was “Children of God,” and I couldn’t remember experiencing more intense mixed feelings about a song. Not between happiness and disappointment, but between being surprised and not being so.

The song featured a sound AJJ had hinted at on “Knife Man,” a sort of odd, pseudo-pychedelic sound that seemed distant. Paired with the surreal lyrics the band is known for, it seemed both new and old at the same time.

This general sound is pretty consistent throughout, present in the songs “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” and “Linda Ronstadt.”

Then you hear “Do, Re and Me.”

That’s when AJJ began getting into uncharted territory. That song has an odd, retro feel to it; it’s like a demented pop song from the early 60s. It’s an interesting direction that I’m not quite sure works, but it may grow on me.

Lyrically, it almost seems as though Bonnette’s upped how weird his songwriting is. He regularly pushes into territory that might still be incomprehensible after a dozen listens.

“Do, Re, and Me” opens with, “I walk into a room full of corpses/the room all smelled like flowers/there were Nikes on their feet,” which isn’t even the most unusual lyric on the album.

These lyrics are part of why you listen to AJJ, though. The lyrics are visceral, they’re supposed to elicit an immediate reaction, not one that simmers. And after repeated listens, you do, I suppose, start to get it.

In all, I’m excited about this direction. “Christmas Island” isn’t an album meant to attract new listeners, it’s an album meant to please current ones without playing it safe. Going further into the abyss is how bands like this develop, and right now I’m happy to be a fan.

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