For their sixth album, garbage-pop veterans AJJ chose to reinforce their strengths and leave any limp frivolities behind. They reconvened with producer John Congleton, who oversaw 2014's sonically expansive Christmas Island, but recorded and mixed the album in a mere nine days,having arranged most of the songs during tour sound checks and down-time in the van. This made for a confident stride into more elaborate arrangements and wider dynamics while staying just as dour. They also opted, amid some sensation, for the simplified band acronym (previously Andrew Jackson Jihad). Singer Sean Bonnette told The AV Club that, among many reasons, thechange cleared a space for new imagery and allowed their music to define them, not their band name. As a result, their new album, The Bible 2, is their most ambitious and assured collection of scuzzy punk screeds, employing even more production heft while sparing none of the vulnerability. The album's mantra is placed right at the center: "No More Shame, No More Fear, No More Dread". The Bible 2 finds the band choosing intimacy over isolation, gravity over the vacuum, the stage instead of the scene. The album is also an examination of boyhood from an adult distance, putting some of its tumult and pain to rest. It's also the most impressive work of Bonnette's, who has honed his confessional lyrical prowess into a punk inflected mire of Trent Reznor's unrestrained turmoil, Jamie Stewart's profane gallows humor and a touch of David Berman's surreal quotidian imagery. Opener "Cody's Theme" rings like Jay Reatard distorted with Neutral Milk Hotel neuroses ("I set the mommy on fire / I set the baby on fire / not even Jesus could stop me"). The character of Cody, a recurring Bonnette motif, returns as a kool-aid stained kid navigating transience, intrusive thoughts and involuntary delusion, brimming wild with destructive energy and having nowhere to put it. Elsewhere, cross-eyed metaphors float above the shredded acoustic Pixies tension of "Terrifier" ("Some days you're a member of Queen / other days you're a Kottonmouth King"), and some of Bonnette's most intense grotesqueries ("My blood is worse than your blood / this heart pumps baby piss") get bit-crushed into the lo-fi Guided By Voices pop of "My Brain is a Human Body". But Bonnette's narrative skills, and the band's growing nuances, have never been more heartbreaking than on "Junkie Church", a tender acoustic tale about affection and companionship on the lowest rung of society ("I used your ribs as ladders / and I climbed up on your chest / and I jumped up and down just like a trampoline" Bonnette sings). Preston Bryant's synth, Mark Glick's cello and Ben Gallaty's bass are employed to haunting Leonard Cohen-like production ends, staccato plucks and serrated chords hiving like gnats then quickly dissolving into darkness. This cinematic arrangement also bolsters the power-folk epic "Small Red Boy", organ heaves and cymbal swells coloring Bonnette's vivid story of rebirth. Near the album's midpoint, right after spelling out their thesis, AJJ pounds through the jangly throb of "Goodbye O Goodbye". The song is a cathartic fever dream, the band walloping furious chords, a kiss-off to so many things worth shedding: the emotional heap of a past life, some long-aching baggage, any and all expectations.
Okay, so Tyler Broderick writes songs and plays them with the friendly rock and roll band: Tristan Jemsek, Jill Frensky, Tony Di Domizio, Erin Ponzo, Mitchell Keaney and Cesar Ruiz.
fluid members/past players: Robert Raya, Nick Shively, Amanda Pitsch, Zach Burba, Bob Vielma, Kyle Daniels, Andrew Kendall, Kyle Burnett, Christian Reeb, jalipaz, Brianna Johnson, Matt Kimball, Kristina Moore, Talisha Royer, Alex Cardwell, Logan Greene, Mari Morton, Erin Caldwell, Mike Sherk, Samuel Regan, Jason Anderson, Stephen Steinbrink, and Patrick Sexton
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