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AJJ – ‘Ugly Spiral: Lost Works: 2012-2016’ Album Review

AJJ – Ugly Spiral – Lost Works: 2012-2016

AJJOver the last fifteen years, AJJ have achieved incredible success solely on the back of their songwriting, and the uncompromising clarity of their lyrics. At the end of 2017 they celebrated the ten-year anniversary of 2007’s People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World with more than fifty sold out shows across the U.S., Canada, UK, and Europe.

Long before the shit show of 2016, AJJ tried to warn us about what lurked beneath American civility. Abusers. Nazis. “Politicians too.” Since 2004, the folk/punk (not folk-punk) band has been a sort of desert prophet, emerging regularly from the 120° Arizona heat to take America to task for all the hypocrisies it won’t admit. White privilege, violent impulses, religious madness and more.

Ugly Spiral – Lost Works: 2012-2016 is a collection of songs that contains unreleased studio cuts and songs previously only available on vinyl with some alternate takes of album highlights. It was released on July 27thand opens with Space And Time with a sputtering rhythm and clear, plaintive vocals, the comparisons with bands like Airborne Toxic Event will be forthcoming as the strings and keyboards build along with a deep double bass led middle eight.

On Kokopelli Face Tattoo the band amp things up tremendously with a booming drumbeat, raunchy riffs and melodious vocals delivering lyrics dripping with well observed irony…great stuff! The twelve song album continues with Do, Re, Me with a radio announcer from what I guess is a religious station before a 1950’s organ melody and drum machine support a trippy, pop song with Blood, Hatred, Money And Rage changing course slightly with a solo strummed acoustic guitar supporting some finely delivered lyrics with the song building to a fine folk production.

Keep On Chooglin’ provides more variety with a skiffle type beat with some excellent lyrics (yes, these folks write super songs) delivered with lots of feeling and melody whereas Brainbody dials up the reverb to Spinal Tap “11” levels creating a weird vocal and guitar atmosphere. With the catchy riffs on Now That I’m At The Top Of My Game hooking you into a poppy approach, AJJ deliver on that aforementioned Airborne Toxic Event vibe and Christmas Island is much sparser with acoustic guitars and lethally biting lyrics aided by the cello/double bass strings…a brilliant protest song!

Getting Naked And Playing With Guns moves into waltz mode juxtaposing mellow light music with cutting, observational lyrics with Junkie Church returning to the acoustic guitar/plaintive vocal approach. The penultimate song, The Final Cut is a simply beautiful version of the Pink Floyd classic…mind blowing stuff! This simply tremendous album that is punk in spirit and folk in sound concludes with I Miss You where the band bring on the Violent Femmes acoustic bass and send us home totally satiated and delighted.

If you like your music full of hooks and melody with biting lyrics then, check these folk punks out here: https://ajjtheband.bandcamp.com