A Brief Introduction to the Albums of AJJ (formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad)
Everyone's favorite folk-punk band. And by "everyone", I mean "me and probably 50,000 other people."
- •"Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns" (2005)Their first album. Just getting started. Also their worst album. If listening to AJJ for the first time, do not start with this one. BEST TRACKS: "Dad Song", "Lady Killer"
- •"People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World" (2007)Here's where you should start. A fast-paced, hilarious romp that features their most famous song, the chaotic "People II: The Reckoning", that ties the album together as a surprisingly moving ode to bipolar disorder. BEST TRACKS: "People II: The Reckoning", "Brave As A Noun"
- •"Can't Maintain" (2009)If "People Who Can Eat People" was the band coming into itself lyrically, this is the band coming into itself musically. That's not to say it's wanting lyrically - it goes deeper and sadder than previous albums, with less overt humor but far more heart and introspection. The last song, "White Face, Black Eyes", is most likely AJJ's finest hour, a masterpiece of evocative imagery, emotion, and instrumentation. BEST TRACKS: "White Face, Black Eyes", "
- •"Knife Man" (2011)If "People..." was an expression of anxiety and angst, and "Can't Maintain" was searching for the source of those feelings, then "Knife Man" is taking action to defeat those inner demons. Their longest and most ambitous work, the album is a political, insightful story of a man driven by anger and sadness towards violence. It lacks the highlights of previous albums, but it's their most balanced and consistent overall. BEST TRACKS: "Big Bird", "People II: Still Peoplin'"
- •"Christmas Island" (2014)"Christmas Island" takes that story-driven style of "Knife Man" and expands it, crafting a new, usually post-apocalyptic tale in each song. It's the most lyrically byzantine and difficult to understand, for better or for worse. It's still angst-ridden or emotional, just couched in a more mature, polished package - which might be a good or bad thing, depending on your opinion of the purposefully-lo-fi vibe they had going before. BEST TRACKS: "Temple Grandin Too", "Linda Ronstadt"