Andrew Jackson Jihad’s cutting ‘Knife Man’ bleeds with greatness

It’s not often that the lyrics of a song stand out to me more than the music itself, but I make an exception for Phoenix, Ariz., folk-punk group Andrew Jackson Jihad because its foul-mouthed tendencies are astonishingly brilliant.

The band released its fourth full-length album, “Knife Man,” last month in its continuing saga of songs railing against the dark depths of humanity.

Sean Bonnette leads the band on vocals and guitar, spitting out phrases that need no interpretation. You won’t hear a more honest break-up song than “Distance,” which opens plainly with “The first month after you left, I drank and jerked off ’til I slept.” He goes on to admit, “I hate whiny fuckin’ songs like this, but I can’t afford a therapist,” and leads into a guitar solo of apology.

The band’s worldview is thoroughly summed up at the end of “Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi”: “People are just fucking mean.” There’s just no beating around the bush with these guys. AJJ follows up on its 2007 “People” saga with “People II 2: Still Peoplin’,” taking a folkier turn that even includes an interlude of gentle “ooooo’s” between verses.

As earnest as the subject matter may be, the band maintains an apparent sense of humor. Take “Fucc the Devil,” which carries one of the album’s best lines.

“I wanna be the queen of all the belly rubs, now.”

While the band’s lyrics may be exceptionally noticeable, the music itself is just as important here. Folk-punk isn’t exactly a common style, and blending the differing genres into one must be no basic task. The blues-riffing of “No One” is executed with passion and perfection, and it’s that admirable musicianship that makes this band one to not ignore. Any singer can shout out words that would shock Grandma into a coma, but that doesn’t even matter unless the music brings just as much to the table, and AJJ brings it hard.


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