Andrew Jackson Jihad - Knife Man (Cover Artwork)

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad: Knife ManKnife Man (2011)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Andrew Jackson Jihad's 2007 full-length, People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People In the World, means a lot to me, and along with Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, stands as one of the pinnacles of the folk-punk genre. Its followup, 2009's Can't Maintain, while a fine record in its own r.
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Andrew Jackson Jihad's 2007 full-length, People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People In the World, means a lot to me, and along with Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, stands as one of the pinnacles of the folk-punk genre. Its followup, 2009's Can't Maintain, while a fine record in its own right, didn't quite have the same emotional resonance for me as People, so I went into their latest offering, Knife Man, with modest expectations, and it blew every single one of them away.

After a short and somber introduction in "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving", Knife Man kicks into high gear with "The Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi 2". It retains the distorted electric guitars first introduced on Can't Maintain, but it feels like the band have a better handle on that kind of instrumentation now, and are writing songs with it in mind, rather than simply adding it to folk songs where it might not belong. Indeed, all of the songs on Knife Man in this style ("Distance" and "Hate, Rain on Me" spring to mind), feel more confident and fully fleshed out than anything on Can't Maintain.

Even with this added instrumentation, Sean Bonnette's lyrics are what have always endeared me, and I imagine the majority of the group's fans to the band, and Knife Man contains some of the most accomplished lyrics of their career thus far. "American Tune" is a meditation on white, heterosexual male privilege, and while somewhat light in tone, it comes off more thoughtful and poignant than anything a band like RVIVR has ever managed to muster up on the subject. "Back Pack" is an extremely graphic account of coming home to find a murdered lover. So graphic, in fact, that at times it is hard to listen to ("They cut out your tongue so you would not scream when you came to. You pissed blood, and then they chained you up when you turned blue. Your body felt just like a T-shirt"), but its haunting melody is so beautiful it's impossible to turn off.

Musically, the band stretches their legs more than they ever have before, and there's not an experiment that doesn't work. Immediately following the bluesy "No One" comes "Sad Songs (Intermission)", a full-blown outlaw country jaunt that manages to work in the phrase "Do you want some cheese with all that whine?" The guitar solos that crop up throughout the album add a new dimension to the group's sound, and serve the songs, rather than just being showoff-y.

As great as the first half of Knife Man is, its second is even better. "Zombie by the Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad" is the closest thing stylistically to People, and features perhaps the best lyrics on the album–that is, until the next song, "People II 2: Still Peoplin'" comes along. It's worthy of its title, cutting just as deep as its predecessors, lyrically. The entire song is immensely quotable, but I'll stick to just one highlight: "You can hope it gets better, you can follow your dreams. But hope is for presidents, and dreams are for people who are sleeping." The song follows a standard folk punk pattern for most of its runtime, but out of nowhere transforms into a Japanther-esque (but better) droney punk tune for its last 10 seconds or so. The album closes on a somber note with "Big Bird", another one of the best songs the band has ever written, with too many great lyrics to even begin to quote.

With Knife Man, Andrew Jackson Jihad have given their fans everything they could have wanted and more. While People will always have a very special place in my record collection and in my heart, this is unquestionably the band's greatest work on almost every level. They've expanded on the musical strides forward they made with Can't Maintain and then some. They've created a well-rounded, diverse album, that is engaging front to back, and could go down as one of the finest folk-punk records ever recorded, although there is much more going on here than you'll find on an average folk-punk record. Absolutely fantastic.


People who liked this also liked:
Bomb the Music Industry! - VacationDead To Me - Moscow Penny AnteJoyce Manor - Joyce ManorAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseFucked Up - David Comes to LifeThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Clash - London CallingFrank Turner - England Keep My BonesThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Andrew Jackson Jihad - People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
keithybobeefy (December 2, 2014)

Such an awesome, honest album. Has such repeat quality. Just great.

OrgcorePunker (March 18, 2013)


milkcrates (January 23, 2012)

This band rules. This album rules. RVIVR rules. Everything rules.

RaisinToastRecords (December 12, 2011)

Fantastic album! Their sound definitely has gone through a metamorphosis, and it's awesome. Although sometimes I think they're moving a bit too far from the folkiness I first loved about them.

callitawasteland (November 17, 2011)

Love it!

milner (October 15, 2011)

Love this band, love this album. Yes yes yes

billymitchell (October 13, 2011)

I loved backpack. I don't know why it is getting so much crap. I mean, I understand that it's weird, but I still think it's a great song, if you like AJJ. Secondly, I've never seen RVIVR. I've never heard bad things about them until now, but I could totally see the possibility of them being pretty pretentious. I think it's hard not to be when you're in the sub-genre that they are in. It's a very fine line to walk. I occasionally will listen to them, but I really have to be in the mood to do so.

RevolutionJoe (October 12, 2011)

Leave rvivr alone!

damnitsderek (September 23, 2011)

Still settling in for me, but fuck me, AJJ know how to write with some brutal honesty. It hurts my heart sometimes listening to these guys. In a good way. If that's possible.

This thread is highly amusing for the RVIVR talk, as well. Musically they don't do much for me save for a few songs, but they really do seem like dicks. Dudes don't seem to get a whole lot of positive reps these days.

Blackjaw_ (September 22, 2011)

RVIVR is not boring at all, but neither is Back Pack. That's the best song on this album.

devianter (September 22, 2011)

reviewer you can kill yourself. i mean really. rvivr is boring? back pack song on this cd is the most boring thing i've heard in years. reminded me of the the riot before (i have my books song from fists buried in pockets) but at least i heard feeling in that one (the rest of the album is perfect, though) . so, basically, i just wanted to say fuck you.

i-like-food (September 21, 2011)

Five stars for the amazing record and pope's RVIVR comments.

kaibosworth (September 20, 2011)

reviewer gets a star for the rvivr reference

Blackjaw_ (September 20, 2011)

Whoa, that guy right there is a staff member and he is outright shit-talking a band. Whoa. Whoooa whooa I love beard punk whoa-oa!

thepopeofchili-town (September 20, 2011)

"Why even insult RVIVR in a review of a band completely unrelated?"

I didn't see that so much as an insult. The song in question tackles a subject that RVIVR talk about a lot (Moreso in interviews/at show than in their music), and I felt AJJ did a better job getting that message across.

I will take this space to insult RVIVR, though. They're incredibly boring musically, and they seem like some of the most smug, self righteous shitheads in the punk scene today. Fuck those guys (and girls).

joe_weasel (September 20, 2011)

For a band that has been progressing from album to album since their beginning, this new one reminds me an awful lot like Can't Maintain. But fickleness aside, it's just as good, and it's unfair to always expect a band's new material to outdo the previous (but a compliment as well.)

justthetip (September 20, 2011)

This album is so good. I think AJJ is one of my top bands of all time though, so i'm kind of partial. My only complaint is that some of the songs have very similar chord progressions to some of there older songs, not that that relly matters much though with the quality lyrics in the songs.

thenightman (September 20, 2011)

Why even insult RVIVR in a review of a band completely unrelated?

MuhammadMormon (September 20, 2011)

Why do you dipshits like this? It's so fucking bad!

StimulantVsDepressant (September 20, 2011)

Good, but damn depressing album.

regulartrite (September 20, 2011)

I always feel shitty whenever I agree with thepopeofchilitown

mrzapatista (September 20, 2011)

great review, cant wait to listen to this

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