Folk punk is not something you come across very often, not least because they could be considered genres diametrically opposed in form and content. Yet Andrew Jackson Jihad make it work, not least because the punk element is toned down so it seems like really quick folk music.
Andrew Jackson Jihad are comprised of Sean Bonnette, Ben Gallaty and seemingly whoever else is in the room at the time. This naturally causes a fluctuation in style which lends more of a punk DIY feel to the project and is mostly where the “punk” element of folk punk comes from.
They’ve released quite a lot of material over the years, but this article is all about their second record, People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World. This is one of those rare occasions where the title is actually the longer than the album. There are twelve words in the title, but only eleven songs. Furthermore, the total running length is a little over twenty five minutes.
This brevity is perfect. There is so filler, no superfluous tracks to skip. Even if you didn’t like a song (which is unlikely) over half of them are under two and half minutes long, with five of those being less than two minutes long, four of which are less than one minute and thirty seconds!
Musically, there are acoustic guitars and mandolins aplenty. The sound is very stripped back and there is a rawness to it that allows the wildly fluctuating emotions on the record float to the surface.
Lyrically, this is very much the result of the dialectic between the highest and lowest emotions a person can feel. There are a number of references to being bipolar and that is what seems to have shaped this record. Nowhere is this better demonstrated that on opening track Rejoice.
Despite confronting all the terrible things in the world and the inevitable fact that not only is the world a terrible place, but on top of that you’re going to die, it calls for you to “Rejoice because you’re trying your best”.
This is how the rest of the record continues, with that juxtaposition of the worst things in the world with the best way to deal with them. At times, this is a very personal record where they sing about childhood abuse and severe emotional problems. It is deeply confessional and feels like a cathartic release.
This is an album that calls for kindness and recognising that all people are just people, despite how terrible they may be. It is a call to find the beauty in the world and finding redemption and meaning in other people.
This is a painfully beautiful record that manages to capture the feeling with both energy and speed. It is a truly fantastic record and one you should share with all your friends.
Whilst I would strongly recommend you buy this record and support an independent artist, the whole record is available to listen to on Youtube. But as with anything if you like it, buy it. This is a sound investment, musically, spiritually and ethically.