Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Knife Man - Andrew Jackson Jihad (Review)

There are certain albums that perfectly define certain genres. Against Me!'s "Reinventing Axl Rose", Frank Turner's "Love Ire & Song", and Andrew Jackson Jihad's "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World" are some of them that define folk-punk. With an album like that, it is hard to keep listeners happy with the releases to come after that. Andrew Jackson Jihad is one of the few who manages to blow away expectations even after their previous albums (which were all masterpieces).

The first song is "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving". It is a short little number. The first line of the song (and of the album) is "The Michael Jordan of drunk driving lost his final game tonight". I personally think opening up an album with a line like that is pretty brave. It is the type of lyric you don't see to often unless from Andrew Jackson Jihad.

The album gets kicked into high gear with "Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi". This song adds a drum set and electric guitars that weren't in "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving". It is a much faster and heavier song than the opener, which throughout the album, there are plenty of heavier / faster songs than Andrew Jackson Jihad fans are used too. Regardless of "what they were / what they are" arguements, these fast tunes are great.

"American Tune" is one of the most witty, yet shockingly honest, song on the album. It is about the many advantages a white, straight, male has in america. The first verse explains the advantages of being white, and the second verse explains the advantages of being a straight male. All the way through the song, they are followed by a kazoo that pretty much takes over the song.

The next song, "Back Pack", is one of the scariest, most brutal, song I have ever heard. It explains a very dark death in very fine detail. And it deeply explains how lifeless the victim felt, explaining "your body felt just like a backpack / t-shirt". Which is actually a horrifying line. The song is almost so graphic, it is hard to listen to at time, but melody and guitar riff is so haunting, it will surely keep you listening. The stuff it says in this song are usually left off of most songs by anyone else because they don't have the balls that Andrew Jackson Jihad has. But Andrew Jackson Jihad prooves they can do whatever the hell they want to do in this song.

"Distance" returns to some more of the fast more traditional punk musicianship as "Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi". This, in my opinion, is a better developed song though. They seem more confident with the electric guitars and such in this song. This song documents a break up in length. It has a pretty funny line it that sings "I hate whiney fuckin' songs like this / but I can't afford a therapist / sorry guys, here's a solo" which then continues into a guitar solo.

"Fucc The Devil" goes back to the slower tunes, which confirms the fact that this album almost has a steady pattern of "slow song, fast song, slow song, fast song.....". This song has some cool back up vocals (i think...?) with a cool little affect on them. Nice littly song, a tad too short though.

"Hate, Rain on Me" is another fast tune (shocker). This song has constant lead electric guitar throughout almost the enitire song, which is not usual for Andrew Jackson Jihad songs. This song sounds more "punk rocky" than the usual Andrew Jackson Jihad song. You see more of these "punk rocky" songs a bit later in the album.

"If You Have Love in Your Heart" is another very short song. This is a very nice song though that fits a lot into the minute and a half it has. I personally see this song as an intermission, almost like this is where the second half of the album begins (or where the first half ends).

"No One" is a song VERY unlike the standard Andrew Jackson Jihad song. It has a very bluesy sound to it that you would never expect from a band like them. It is a sad song. It is a song about being no one in the world, and having no one to be a no one with. There is a nice little guitar solo about half way through the song too. This song seems to drag a little bit too long towards the end, but it is cool to hear these guys expirement a little bit.

"Sad Songs (Intermission)" seems like it came straight from a cowboy movie. It sounds real old school. The only thing that sounds like Andrew Jackson Jihad is the voice, thats all. The song is very refreshing. You don't usually hear this amount of expirementing in a punk rock record. The piano is the base of this song, and it works absolutly perfectly.

"Zombie By The Cranberries By Andrew Jackson Jihad" sounds like it came straight from "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World". It is the same instrumentation as that album. It is stripped down to the basic acoustic instrumentation. It is a very good song with borrowed lines from the song "When The Saints Go Marching In".

"People II 2: Still Peoplin'" is probably the best thing, lyrically, they have ever written. This is one of the most quotable songs I have ever heard. There is too many awesome lines to quote right here in this review, but I'll share what I think is one of the greatest lyrics of all time. "You can hope it gets better, you can follow your dreams. But hope is for presidents, and dreams are for people who are sleeping". I think that is one of the greatest lines ever. There is much more in the song also that are worth listening for. This song is a sequel of a sequel, but not a sequel to the original, confusing concept, eh?

Here is another one of those punk songs I was talking about earlier. It is called "Sorry Bro". This is most likely the "punkest" song they have ever recorded (I hate to use the term "punkest", but I mean traditional punk rock by that). It is just barely short of two minutes and just has electric guitar, bass, and fast drum.

The next song, "Skate Park", is similar in terms of the fast drums and electric guitars, but is a lot better, in my honest opinion. This song is very fast. The opening guitar riff to this song is very catchy. And one line of this song got caught in my head for a few days. It goes "stick stick stick to your guns / don't quit until you feel like changing them"

"Free Bird" starts off and ends with just the sound of nature (rain, birds ect.), and these sounds continue behind the music for the entire song. This is a very good song. It is very poetic, and the backround sounds add to the poetic aspect. There is also a constant mandolin (I think) playing through out the whole song which is very cool to listen too.

The last song is "Big Bird" This is most likely one of the greatest song Andrew Jackson Jihad has ever written. It just starts with Sean's vocals and continued nature noises for about forty-five seconds. This song seems pretty depressing. There is some really cool back up vocals going on in the verses which are credited as "Knife Man Singers". I am not too sure why they credited them as that, but regardless, this song is spectacular. The perfect way to close a nearly perfect album.

Although  "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World" is one of the definitive folk-punk records of all time, this album prooves to be a lot more than just a folk-punk record. If I had to put a label on it, sure, it would be folk-punk, but this is so much more than that. This album sees them expirementing with so many different styles and different instruments. This record just has so much going on it that it will be fun to listen to every time. This could very well be as good, possibly better than, "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World".

Highlights : American Tune, Back Pack, People II 2: Still Peoplin', Big Bird

Music : 8. (No complaints)
Lyrics : 9.5 (witty, clever, perfection)
Artwork :8 (varied dark and bright, just like the music)

Overall : 9

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