Evolution Meets Revolution on AJJ's New Track, 'The Poem'

AJJ have a new album coming out in January.
AJJ have a new album coming out in January. Steph Carrico
In January 2020, Phoenix-born band AJJ are offering an entire musical meal with their upcoming release — their seventh full-length — Good Luck, Everybody. Don’t worry, hungry fans, while that might seem like a long wait, a one-song appetizer, out on October 29, can sate those sonic cravings.

The track is titled “The Poem,” and it is a song that doesn’t need to break the two-minute mark to make its point — that an artform itself is in no way indebted to those who create beneath its umbrella.

The band’s singer and guitarist Sean Bonnette says it was the first song he wrote for the album.

“It was the one I had around for a long time,” he says. “I kept thinking I needed to do more with it. My wife pointed out that it seemed complete. In the tradition of folk singers like Tim Hardin, I used the first verse as the second voice but made a few changes and realized yeah, it was done."

Even with its intense lyrics, the song’s instrumentation brings you in gently for those verses. Then it fires you up a bit with its volume-elevated chorus. It maintains a soft and flowy sound as it first holds, then releases you, all the while never losing sight of its lyrical message.

As the first track on Good Luck, Everybody, it sets the stage for what follows: a brutal examination of current politics — our country's, in particular — and the weighty emotions that are part and parcel of an incredibly challenging social climate.

Though he didn't set out to specifically pen a politically-oriented record, Bonnette says that he remained true to his process of "just letting the songwriting happen," and that "generally, what I write is a reaction to something going on within me or in greater society."

Bonnette has long-amazed us with his ability to use few words to convey both the beauty and darkness inherent to human life. The music’s role in this new endeavor changes the AJJ listening experience, and the change is righteous.

There are a lot of seminal and experimental folk sounds at play here, which is a lovely way for AJJ to grow. Making this record is also the first time the band has been label-free in a while.

“Ben (Gallaty —bassist and vocalist) recorded and produced this one mainly by ourselves,” Bonnette says. “We have sometimes heard that our music had gotten slicker or over-produced, and people would attribute that to us being on a label so no one can say that with this one." He says they're both pleased with the whole project.

Fill up on “The Poem,” but save room for the upcoming album. And good luck, everybody, indeed, this record proves that we need it.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young