Ugly Spiral is a collection of lost works from AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad) from 2012 to 2016. The band has developed a cult following for their energetic folk/punk and their breathtakingly honest lyrics so, although this is music from the AJJ archive, fans will no doubt be keen to hear some previously unheard versions of tracks and previously unheard music.
By Graeme Smith
Ugly Spiral kicks in an unusually quiet and melodic way for AJJ with the acoustic Space and Time. The track includes lyrics about being “I’m close enough to happy to say I won’t throw my memories away” suggesting a bit more optimism from the guys. It’s tempered by lines such as “don’t you know that dose is likely poisonous” so the rawness hasn’t been lost.
Things lively up with the barnstorming Kokopelli Face Tattoo, tackling the inevitably of decline throughout life. Through to Christmas Island, Getting Naked and Playing With Guns, Junkie Church and beyond its the AJJ we all know and love: cutting, clever lyrics and folksy arrangements. What more can we say about the AJJ sound? Fans need no convincing and those who haven’t heard them can only truly appreciate them by giving them a go.
A cover of The Final Cut is included as a treat for Pink Floyd fans (it happens to be my personal favourite Floyd track). It’s an authentic replica that honours the raw pessimism of the original.
The more astute will realise that the release of this material is driven by its absolute relevance to the current political situation in the United States. Throughout their 15 year career, AJJ have seen to growing divisiveness in their nation and have, in many ways, tried to warn us of what the end result would be. Here we are in 2018 approaching the dystopia they predicted.
Ugly Spiral – Lost Works 2012-2016 by AJJ is out now.