Andrew Jackson Jihad: Christmas Island – album review

Andrew Jackson Jihad – Christmas Island (SideOneDummy Records)

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Andrew Jackson Jihad take a huge jump with new album, Christmas Island. A more accessible sound that will still appeal to the freaks and social misfits. Ian Citchley reviews.

It must be hard for Andrew Jackson Jihad. To have folded into the creases of the punk rock community, a friendly haven for many socially downtrodden aspiring musicians, and still be seen as kinda strange, to still be the weird kid. But this label of being a bit kooky is not entirely without justification as, even in the underbelly of the god-awful non-label of “folk-punk”, the Jihad’s sound will no doubt seem completely bizarre to ears only just dipping their toes into the music pool of punk influenced folk rock.

For those who have been dirtying their hands in the soil of this genre for some time, however, Andrew Jackson Jihad is, no doubt, an already known truffle in the dirt. Back in 2008 the band played Asian Man Record’s ‘Making Punk Fun Again’ tour and, by listening to Christmas Island, it seems that the band were not only part of the tour, but took its namesake as their daily mantra. Which isn’t to say that the record is a gimmick, as the lyrical content is still deep, sincere and tackling serious topic matters such as political strife, mental health and the ills of the human condition. Take ‘Do, Re, and Me’, underneath the camp doo-wop melodies lies a macabre tale of giving up your individuality to follow the herd of modern society.

Musically, the band have taken a more mellow approach in contrast to their last full length, Knife Man, and seem to be more influenced by the music of over half a century past than that of the fast-paced punk of their old Asian Man counterparts, utilising the folk revival sounds and mellifluous harmonies made famous by Simon and Garfunkel and picking fruits from the trees of soul, gospel and blues. That isn’t to say that there are no heavier moments within this record, ‘Kokopelli Face Tattoo’ is a song that sounds a lot more like AJJ fans are familiar with.

Christmas Island is a huge jump for the band, giving them a far more accessible sound to unsuspecting ears without extinguishing the flame of the curious style that gave them a strong and loyal fan base of freaks and social misfits.

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Christmas Island is available from SideOneDummy and the band can be ‘liked’ through their Facebook┬ápage.

All words by Ian Critchley, find his Louder Than War archive here.

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