Andrew Jackson Jihad - Christmas Island (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Christmas Island (2014)

Side One Dummy

Christmas Island is Andrew Jackson Jihad's debut full-length on Side One Dummy; an unexpected, but fairly well-received switch from Asian Man Records. It also is their first record with their three new permanent members. The announcement of these new members was in their very funny promotional video for their crowd-funding venture to buy a Sprinter van for their upcoming tour. They managed to get to their first goal of $15,000 in just under five hours and by the end of the month-long venture they reached over $33,000.

If you kept tabs and donated to their crowd-funding campaign, then you probably know that the single from Christmas Island is called "Children of God." This was the perfect song for them to choose because since we know that the punk scene isn't typically very keen on a band's line up change (let alone a label change), this song reassures Andrew Jackson Jihad's listenership that they are still writing weird (in a good way), random, heartfelt songs filled with raw emotion and funny lyrics like: "I saw the Children of God/As they walked on slovenly by/The USB ports in their arms were bleeding."

Andrew Jackson Jihad's last release was the fantastic Andrew Jackson Jihad: Live at the Crescent Ballroom, which featured a few new tracks from the band. Of those new tacks only "Kokopelli Face Tattoo" made it on Christmas Island. Unfortunately, the amazing song "#armageddon" did not make it on this album. Hopefully, they will release a studio version down the road (PLEASE!). Compared to the live version of "Kokopelli Face Tattoo," the tempo of this one has been slowed a bit and a lot more fuzz has been added to the guitars.

As for the rest of the album, its actually darker and gloomier sounding compared to their previous releases. Production-wise, it's also fairly polished. It's not too polished, but its noticeable when compared to previous releases like Can't Maintain. It also relies a little more on electric guitars as well. But don't fret. There's still plenty of Sean's great acoustic guitar work with Ben backing him up on bass along with the accompaniment of other instruments such as piano, mandolin, drums and even (what I believe to be) an organ just to name a few. And Christmas Island still has a lot of AJJ's famous angst, dark humor and self-loathing, notably in songs like "Deathlessness" and "Do, Re, and Me." Even the lyrics of first track, "Temple Grandin," say: "Open up your murder eyes/And see the ugly world that spat you out," and the song "I Wanna Rock Out in My Dreams," which is very "Big Bird"-esque, has the lyrics: "The older I get/The more articulate I am at whining."

So for those of you who are worried in any way about this band because of their label and line up changes, don't be. Christmas Island is another great addition to Andrew Jackson Jihad's discography.

Note to my fellow vinyl nerds: This album was pressed in three different color variations: 3,000 in a blue/pink/white swirl, 1,500 in turquoise, and 500 in a Purple/Orange starburst.