Hey there everyone, thanks for joining me for another Souvenir of the Week. I hope that your fall is going well so far and you’re enjoying all that this season brings. I must confess that as the days here in San Diego get colder and shorter, I find myself often thinking of my home land of punk. Who doesn’t miss home around this time of year? One of the things I miss the most about my home is the lively immigrants from the land of folk that came to my home a little over 30 years ago. Their raw approach to music, instrumentally and lyrically, has made them welcome guests not only in my home land but also my heart.
I tell all of you readers this because I wish to share with you all this wonderful music that I miss so dearly. That is why this month all of my souvenirs for you all will be either folk punk or folk in origin. This week, I’ll be starting off with the album People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World by the folk punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad.
Andrew Jackson Jihad started back in 2004 and since then has released seven full length albums (two of which are live albums), five EPs, and nine split albums with bands such as Ghost Mice, Mischief Brew, and O Pioneers!!!. Over the past ten years it has been Sean Bonnette (guitarist/vocalist) and Ben Gallaty (bassist) as the constant members of the band, with various other punk musicians performing/recording with them over the years. People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World is the band’s second full length album, having been released back in 2007, and is probably my favorite album by them.
This album showcases how varied folk punk can sound; from rambunctious foot stomping tunes, to the somber/sad songs, and even to folk punk’s roots of the abstract and weird. All while having a seemingly simple instrumentation throughout, mainly just Sean’s guitar and Ben’s upright bass, while still incorporating a variety of other not so common instruments such as a pianolin and a glockenspiel.
The tracks Brave As A Noun and Survival Song are examples of the upbeat tracks on this album while also showing the honesty, straightforwardness, and at times bluntness of their lyrics. An example of this is this line from Survival Song, “I give a thank you to my father for not raising me, and I give a finger to my stepfather for beating me.” The slower and sadder tracks such as People II: The Reckoning and People show this lyrical honesty. While the former discusses the darker side of people and their disillusionment with society, the latter discusses how they still have faith in their fellow humans and the intrinsic equality of every person.
The lyrics also display punk’s influence on this album, which can be seen clearly in the social and political commentary throughout many of the songs, but especially in the track No More Tears. In which they talk about a variety of topics such as racism, immigration, the environment, and drug abuse. Other tracks that show this are the previously mentioned tracks People II: The Reckoning and People as well as the track Personal Space Invader.
The weird and abstract qualities of this album I spoke about earlier can not only be found in the instrumentation of some songs like A Song Dedicated To the Memory of Stormy The Rabbit and Personal Space Invader, but also lyrically throughout most of this album. For example the song Bells & Whistles talks about whether or not the baby of a pregnant woman would survive if the woman was decapitated. However this type of “weirdness” was a key aspect of early folk punk bands, especially the Violent Femmes who are credited with kickstarting the genre in the United States. Another example of this “weirdness” is the track Bad Bad Things, a conversation between a murderer and their victim as sung from the murderer’s point of view, which is similar to the Violent Femmes’ song Country Death Song, in which the true story of a farmer who throws his own daughter down a well and then hangs himself is told.
All weird and abstract qualities aside, this is a really solid album and is definitely one of my all time favorite folk punk albums. Some of my favorite tracks are Brave As A Noun, Survival Song, Personal Space Invader, Bad Bad Things, and No More Tears. Give it a listen or two and I’m sure it won’t be long until you’re all stomping your foot and singing loudly along with this album. Thanks for reading and I’ll see all of you folks next week.
Photo credit: https://fanart.tv/fanart/music/5e1dbdb2-87ac-41ff-9960-4a42a872327a/albumcover/people-that-can-eat-people-are-the-luckiest-people-in-the-wo-542e90a7aa41f.jpg