AJJ - The Bible 2 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Bible 2 (2016)

Side One Dummy Records

AJJ successfully made the jump from being a two-piece folk punk act into an actual full band with 2014’s Christmas Island. In that respect (and others) it was very much a transitional record for them. Two years later they have released their follow up album The Bible 2 and the question now is can they keep the momentum that they had with Christmas Island going with this new studio release? The answer to that is absolutely yes.

You can definitely tell with The Bible 2 that AJJ were not going for a slightly modified sound that Christmas Island has. While that album was arguably pretty dark, The Bible 2 aims to have a brighter garage/indie rock sound generally. Tracks like “Golden Eagle,” “Goodbye, Oh Goodbye” and “White Worms” are definitely prime examples of that. “Golden Eagle” is much more on the garage rock side of this album. Unlike the typical AJJ songs, this one has a high-pitched main guitar riff. But much like their newer material they are able to mix fuzzy electric guitars (like what you hear on “Kokopelli Face Tattoo”) and acoustic guitars together to blend into this weird folk rock vibe. Sean still sings in his shrill-ish voice, which has always been such a unique aspect to AJJ. The experiment to mix this harder rocking instrumentation and his vocals works quite.

However the band does not abandon folk punk altogether on this record. They do leave room for it with the song “Junkie Church,” which is a bit of a return to when it was just Sean and Ben that would crank out those anxiety-filled folk punk anthems. And the tune “Small Red Boy” is sort of their updated “Big Bird” (from the album Knife Man), where the band starts out really soft and slow and continuously builds up to a giant finale. The fact that AJJ have included these older-sounding songs shows that despite their pretty major success since leaving Asian Man Records they have not lost touch with their roots.

AJJ also has not stopped doing what they do best, which is writing lyrics full of emotion/self-doubt, non sequiturs and really odd imagery. Lyrics like these are all over The Bible 2, but most notably in the track “American Garbage” that has lines like, “If I were one of these things, I’d be American garbage/The most beautiful thing/The most beautiful American garbage you have ever seen” and “Terrifyer” that has lyrics such as, “Then it got personal, I found my rage/I just wanted to rage, but all I got was tired.”

With this new(er) direction that AJJ has been going in since switching to a full band there is one question that long time fans of the band might want to consider. The fact that not only does the song “No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread” seems to be the center piece song of The Bible 2 (not only because it is one of the longest songs on the album, but also because it is literally on the album cover), does this mean that AJJ is leaving all of their self-loathing and yes -- the shame, the fear and the guilt behind? If you take a look at the back of their (amazing) album Live At The Crescent Ballroom, you’ll see the short essay that explains what these feelings mean to the band. They are the fuel that feeds the AJJ fire. So are we seeing the band mature in this respect? It might be something to think about and keep in mind when their future releases come out, but for now let’s just enjoy that AJJ angst that we all know and love them for on this one. Of course The Bible 2 has a much different sound overall than say Can’t Maintain and even Christmas Island, but AJJ’s ability to keep changing their sound for each record, while still writing these brutally honest, imaginative, and even funny lyrics is what makes this album and AJJ in general great.