SOLD OUT- AJJ

SOLD OUT- AJJ

Ogikubo Station

Tue · September 12, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Grog Shop

$15.00 - $17.00

This event is all ages

AJJ
AJJ
Christmas Island, the5th albumproper from Andrew Jackson Jihad,is a little bit silly, a little bit serious. It’s a record that’sirreverent yet somber, full ofhumor and full of pathos, its twelve songs combining the twoto create a record that –truly –cuts right to the bone ofthehuman condition. Whether it’s life, love, death, loss or Linda Ronstadt, this record has it all, delvinginto the most profound ofemotions, reaching deep into the heart of humanity, unveiling universal truths through the most unlikely of scenarios.Of course, if you’re aware of Andrew Jackson Jihad –comprisedof founding members SeanBonnette(vocals and guitar) and Ben Gallaty(bass), with Preston Bryant(keyboards, guitars)and Deacon Batchelor(drums) and album/touring cellist MarkGlick–you’ll know that the Phoenix, Arizonaoutfit havebeen doing exactly that for the last decade. In fact,they’ve built asignificant cult following since their inception in 2004, one that knows just how heartbreaking,heartwarming and inspiringtheir shambolicsongs can be. This record –their first for SideOneDummy Records –is no different. And while Bonnetteacknowledgesit’stheir most cohesive to date,it wasn’ttheeasiest to write.“One or two of these songs,” he explains,“I’d started writing before our last album was out. And then there was a bit of struggle to write, a battle against self-doubt that I eventually won, with the help of[producer]John Congleton. He definitely helped coax out songs. He told us, ‘Writeas many songs as you can and send them to me, and I’ll tell you which ones I want to record.’ Since then, I’ve started to adopt that method, not so much worrying if a song is a good song, but just making sure that I write a song.It was a really fun process, after the battle against self-doubt was won.”You can hear just how fun it was when you listen to it. Recorded by Congleton (Murder By Death, The Mountain Goats, Okkervil River, The Thermals)atElmwood StudiosinDallas, Texas,Christmas Island’stwelve songs aregood songs –actually, they’re great songs –and they combineto present a vibrantvision of what Andrew Jihad Jackson is all about; blurring the lines between the ludicrous and the earnest, reality and surreality. Take, for instance, ‘Linda Rondstadt’, a plaintivethree minute ballad about the power country/soft rock singer. ‘Today I lost my shit in a museum / It was a video installation of Linda Rodstadt,’opines Bonnette in the first verse,beforethe chorus kicks in: ‘I almost made it through a year of choking down my fears / But they’re gonefornow, all thanks to Linda Rondstadt.’It sounds ridiculous, but it’satruestory.“That’s one of the songs aboutsomething that actually happened,” says Bonnette. “I was living back in Phoenix, Arizona after living in Chicago for a year with my girlfriend. So I wasreally homesick, but I was at home, andwe went to the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, Arizonaas chaperonesfor my uncle’s high school ESL class, but as soon as we got there we fucked off and didn’t supervise any of those kids. We just walkedaround, and I found an installation of Linda Rondstadt’smusic, of her singing in Spanish. And it was at that point that I just lost it. All of the homesickness hit me and I just started weeping. The weird thing is that I wasn’t even that big a fan of Linda Rondstadt until that moment. I’d always thought positively of her, but she’d certainly never made me cry before”While that song might relate to one specific moment of overwhelming grief, there’s an underlying influence that runs through all of them–the death of Bonnette’s grandfather.Last track ‘Angel Of Death’ references it explicitly, but his grandfather’s presence is in all of these songs.
“A whole lot of the record,” explains Bonnette, “is about pre-grieving. He passed away about a month before we went in to record it. I flew in aftera solo tour and made itjust in time to watch him die and be with him. The next week we started practising to record. So he was pretty much with me the entire time, and was obviously playing on my mind. A lot of these songs are about grieving before you need to grieve and making your peace with it before anything happens. I had my worst night before I flew home, before he’d even passed away. But there’s another theme, too –which is pretty heavily handed in the song ‘Deathlessness’ –and that’s that forgiveness is a pretty wonderful thing. After my grandfather’s death, I realised that there were a couple of people I’d been holding grudges and ill will against and I decided to forgive them, and I feel a lot better about it now.”That tensionbetween furyand forgiveness, between anger andcalm, betweenlove and hate and life and death, isn’tjust thematic,but weaved into in the sonicfabricof these songs. In ‘Deathlessness’ itself, the jaunty, minor chord melody rages against the inevitability of death, the tunerestless and agitateduntil the key refrain –‘How can I live without ever knowing the beauty of forgiveness?’–tempers it with grace and, yes, beauty. Opener ‘Temple Grandin’ is scuzzy yet melodic, whilethe tense euphoria of ‘Children Of God’ is as beautiful and disturbing as the song’s incredible imagery(choice example: ‘I found a weird calling card in a puddle of body parts inside a bowl of angel hearts that the children were eating’). ‘Kokopelli FaceTattoo’ –which has been floating around for years in various guises–thrashes with fuzzy,catchy energy, ‘Coffin Dance’ is fragile yet frustrated, worn down by life but desperate to kick out against it, and closer ‘Angel Of Death’ brims with a confidence that bravely defies its subject matter. “We’d just finished touring as an electric band,” says Bonnette, “and we were kind of ready to make an electric rock album. I’m so glad we didn’t do that. Because John wanted to make a mostlyacoustic album that was really brutal, that was sonically very distorted and over-driven and almost painful to listen to. Almost as if to prove that acoustic music can be heavy. But he also wanted me to write songs from the heart.”These arecertainly songs from the heart, butonesas unusual as they are traditional. It’s a record that’s raw and gentle,hummable yet abrasiveand downright weird and wonderful. It’s a little bit silly and alittle bit serious, full ofsad humor and hilarious pathos. Because Christmas Island–it’s far from a random title, but it’s also kind of a secret –is simultaneously ridiculous and sublime in the way that Andrew Jackson Jihad alwayshave been. It’s a recordabsolutely in keeping with their bold and brilliant past –the one their cult following has been following for years –but it’s also a bold andbrilliant step forward. That’s something Bonnette, in his typically modest, playful way,almost agrees with.“I’m mostly happy with it,”he chuckles.“I think our next record will be better than this. At least,I hope that it would be. But if I died tomorrow,I’d be really happy that this was the last thing I recorded."
Ogikubo Station
Maura Weaver and Mike Park playing music. Simple chords with simple melodies with the simple goal of having fun playing music.
Venue Information:
The Grog Shop
2785 Euclid Heights Blvd
Cleveland, OH, 44106
http://grogshop.gs/