Andrew Jackson Jihad

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Candy Cigarettes & Cap Guns (2005), 6/10
People Who Can Eat People (2007), 6.5/10
Can't Maintain (2009), 6.5/10
Knife Man (2011), 7/10
Christmas Island (2014), 5/10
The Bible 2 (2016), 5/10
Good Luck Everybody (2020), 4/10

Andrew Jackson Jihad, an anti-folk project from Phoenix (Arizona), fronted by singer/guitarist Sean Bonnette, debuted with the 22-minute eleven-song mini-album Candy Cigarettes & Cap Guns (2005), recorded as a duo with bassist Ben Gallaty, which is almost a nihilistic concept album. The duo straddles the border between bluegrass and punk-rock in the frenzied Cigarette Song (later renamed Smokin') and Scenesters. The singalong Love Song (later renamed Darling I Love You) and especially the ebullient Ladykiller the street music of David Peel. They destroy the canon of country music in Dad Song and Dylan Cook's Theme Song.

The six-song EP Issue Problems (2006) adds the arch-melodic Brave as a Noun, the pub singalong Murderer, and more of their hilarious hijackings of bluegrass music, Survival and People.

People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World (2007) is another rapid-fire parade (25 minutes) of witty and energetic ditties. At the core of the album is the martial bluegrass-punk of spirited songs like Rejoice (with accordion and trumpet), Survival Song, People, No More Tears, but there are also songs that could be numbers of an underground musical, like the grotesque fanfare A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit and the bizarre singalong People II The Reckoning (that quotes and makes fun of Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson).

Can't Maintain (2009) added guitarist Preston Bryant to the line-up, debuted real drumming and, in general, more professional arrangements, but didn't reduce the vicious and sarcastic tones. The stylistic variety is impressive, from the catchy ska-infected pub singalong Self Esteem (the standout) to the neo-classical aria Love in the Time of Human Papillomavirus, from the tender quasi-pop confession Evil (another highlight) to the anthemic punk-rock rigmarole We Didn't Come Here To Rock, from the slow country ballad Love Will Fuck Us Apart (whose title mocks Joy Division's Love will Tear us Apart) to the bluegrass breakdown of Sense Sensibility. The punk element exploded in earnest with the emocore of Heartiliation, but You Don't Deserve Yourself has a rhythm and a saxophone that evoke the dancehall of the 1950s.

The 16-song Knife Man (2011) is the ultimate display of their hilarious and vulgar punk-infected roots-rock. There is plenty of breathless and catchy punk-pop, notably Distance, but also Gift of the Magi/ Return of the Magi and Sorry Bro. There are echoes of British pub-rock of the 1970s in the passionate rocking Hate Rain on Me and in the bluesy power-ballad No One. American Tune, one of the highlights, evokes the ironic singalongs of Jonathan Richman. The stately ballad Back Pack, the melodic peak of the album, boasts a refrain and a guitar riff that are redolent of Stairway to Heaven, whereas Sad Songs is a sardonic honky-tonking Randy Newman-esque singalong with saloon piano. There is no limit to the stylistic variety of the album, that ends with the melancholy elegy Free Bird and the operatic hymn-like confession Big Bird.

Rompilation (2012) compiles the singles up to that point and some covers.

Christmas Island (2014) was still fun listening but hardly groundbreaking.

Renamed simply AJJ, the quintet recorded the 29-minute The Bible 2 (2016), with Cody's Theme. By now they had adopted a mainstream sound.

The EP Back in the Jazz Coffin (2017) contains acoustic songs; Decade of Regression (2017) is a live album: and Ugly Spiral (2018) collects rarities.

The political concept Good Luck Everybody (2020) is strong on politics but weak on music, despite the single A Poem. The single Horsehair Vase fares better.

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