top of page
  • Writer's pictureAC (QSO)

Rank the Albums - AJJ

People are people, regardless of AJJ opinions...

A graphic showing the album covers of AJJ's first 9 albums: Candy Cigarettes And Capguns, People Who Can Eat People..., Only God Can Judge Me, Can't Maintain, Knife Man, Christmas Island, The Bible 2, Ugly Spiral, and Good Luck Everybody. Overlayed above these in the centre of the graphic is the QSO Media logo; two sets of pixelated text reading "QSO".

Rank the Albums is a series where I listen through a particular artist's catalogue, listening to every album, and expressing my thoughts.

Ah, AJJ, where to begin?

The Arizona-based folk-punk collective have been active since 2004, releasing dozens of full-length projects in that time, with the core duo of Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty been knocking out classic songs on a regular basis. They've been one of my favourite bands for years; not only making some of my favourite albums of all time, but also a band who've been there for many defining moments in my life. The first gig I went to after moving out of my parents' house was an AJJ show on the Christmas Island tour, and I've never forgotten that night.

This year, they triumphantly returned with Disposable Everything: an instant classic, chameleonic beauty of a record. It nods to their frenetic roots while offering new stylistic avenues, all tied together with some of Bonnette's greatest lyrics yet. A reason why the band have maintained such longevity is their consistency as album artists, and Disposable Everything is a worthy entry into their bulletproof canon.

In this article, I'm going to take a retrospective look back at their seven full-length studio albums, plus the loosie compilations Only God Can Judge Me and More and Ugly Spiral, as both these stand strong as cohesive projects in their own right.

I've chosen not to include their debut album, Candy Cigarettes and Capguns, for two reasons: one, because ranking it would entail listening through it in full, which I don't want to do, and two, the band themselves seem to have disowned it, describing the songs as "immature" and "pretty bad". Sure, Fly My Ass is pretty fun, but overall the record is several cuts below their otherwise stellar back catalogue, all of which hold important places in my heart.

Without any further ado, let's dive in! Drop your hot takes in the comments below.


9. Ugly Spiral (2018)

The album art for AJJ's album "Ugly Spiral". It is an abstract collage of colours and painted paper. The image is framed by a white border, and at the bottom of the border there is black text reading "AJJ's UGLY SPIRAL: LOST WORKS 2012-2016".

In some ways, it feels a little unfair ranking Ugly Spiral up against AJJ's other releases - after all, it's more a collection of "lost works". Almost half the tracklist consists of alternative versions of songs from Christmas Island or The Bible 2, offering an interesting glimpse into the writing process for these songs (hell, I think I prefer the Ugly Spiral version of Getting Naked and Playing with Guns). The standalone tracks here are excellent - Now That I'm At The Top of My Game remains significant as the first single AJJ released under their new name, and is one of their finest songs to date.

Best tracks: Now That I'm At The Top of My Game, Space & Time

Best line: I feel like an idiot, but I know I can deal with it.

8. Only God Can Judge Me (2008) and More (2017)

The album art for AJJ's "Only God Can Judge Me And More". It is a black square with a white drawing of a cat.

In some ways, Only God Can Judge Me is like People...'s pessimistic younger brother. The relentless optimism of tracks like Rejoice still remains, but there's a stronger undercurrent of nihilism and sadness to tracks like Candle in the Wind. Some of the lyrics are more graphic and intense than before, too; often uncomfortably so. The record improved upon re-release in 2017, when combined with tracks from the Plant Your Roots EP, such as the untouchable El Principito and the apocalyptic one-two punch of All The Dead Kids and Unicron.

Best tracks: El Principito, Growing Up

Best line: I'm either too happy or fucking sad, and I can't keep up with that.

7. People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World (2007)

The album art for AJJ's album "People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World". It shows a cute white bunny in front of a yellow cloudy sky.

For some people, this album is as good as folk-punk gets. People remains an iconic record in AJJ's catalogue, and for a pseudo-debut album, it's really fucking good. There's a reason why Brave as a Noun remains their flagship song after all these years.

The sheer optimism and energy of the record is infectious, and it's hard not to smile hearing tracks like Personal Space Invader or the closing track People. Elsewhere, the band hint at styles they'll go on to explore in later albums, such as the country of Survival Song or the chamber pop-esque A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit. Even though the band would go on to reach greater heights, the album holds a special place in my heart.

Best tracks: Brave as a Noun, Survival Song, Randy's House

Best line: Rejoice despite the fact this world will tear you to shreds, rejoice because you're trying your best!

6. Good Luck Everybody (2020)

The artwork for AJJ's album "Good Luck Everybody". It is a painted depiction of a tidal wave approaching a beach. On the beach there is a busted-looking table and chair set with an umbrella, and a large rocket half-buried in the sand. In the sky, we can see a large bird dropping a bomb, and the letters AJJ as part of the orange sky. At the water's edge, we see two human figures holding dogs.

Good Luck Everybody was the last album I remember hearing before shit hit the fan in 2020. It's bizarre knowing that some of the songs on it were much older, as songs like Body Terror Song have only got more relevant with time.

The album's songs fall into three camps for me: songs explicitly about the political state of America in the late 2010's (Psychic Warfare, Mega Guillotine 2020), beautifully evergreen songs about isolation (Your Voice As I Remember It, Feedbag), and perhaps the best category: songs that somehow straddle both (A Big Day for Grimley, Normalization Blues).

Best tracks: A Big Day for Grimley, Your Voice As I Remember It, Normalization Blues

Best line: I know that you know what I need more than me, and I know that you need me more than that.

5. Knife Man (2012)

The album art for AJJ's album "Knife Man". It shows a wolf-like creature with sharp teeth and blue eyes. On their cheek is a human hand. The figure stands in front of a sunburst,  and to the left there is text reading LOVE SUM LIES ALL.

Knife Man was my introduction to AJJ, and looking back, it's easy to see how it made me completely fall in love with the band. It's got the furious folk-punk that launched them to success, but it's got so much more than that, dipping into 60's pop (If You Have Love in Your Heart), bratty pop-punk (Skate Park), and traditional folk (Free Bird).

Best of all is the closing Big Bird, a song that feels fucking HUGE in its dramatic drums, arena-sized guitars, and gorgeous vocal arrangements. It's possibly their greatest song in a career full of great songs. Sure, the album's a bit overlong and has some filler, but when the best songs are as good as they are, who cares? Knife Man is an incredible record that contains new things to fall in love with every time you hear it.

Best tracks: Big Bird, People II 2: Still Peoplin', Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi

Best line: It's harder to be yourself than it is to be anybody else.

4. Disposable Everything (2023)

The album cover for AJJ's album "Disposable Everything". It depicts a skeletal figure standing tall on a litter-filled beach in front of a red sky.

If Good Luck Everybody was an early premonition of the apocalypse, Disposable Everything is a stream-of-consciousness rollercoaster ride through the here and now. AJJ songs have touched on feelings of isolation and grief previously, but never more consistently and deeply as here. From the noisy squall of Strawberry Probably that kicks things off, through the acoustic elegy of career highlight All of My Woulds, to quote the band themselves, it's fucking depressing.

It's as outwardly political as Good Luck Everybody, too. Take Schadenfreude, where the original lyrics of which are among the most biting Bonnette's ever written. There's also the surreal Moon Valley High, which blends the record's themes of mournful nostalgia into a so-strange-you-couldn't-make-it-up tale of the band's connection to Jake Angeli.

Musically, the album splits the difference between the punkier edge of their earlier material, and the more explorative sounds from Christmas Island onwards, making for an exhilirating listen. Whatever AJJ's future holds, you don't want to miss out on being along for the ride.

Best tracks: Disposable Everything, All of My Woulds, Death Machine

Best line: Do you think it's ever gonna get better, or will we all just keep on getting dumber and number?

3. Can't Maintain (2010)

The album art for AJJ's album "Can't Maintain". The album name is at the top and the band name is at the bottom. The image is a black and white drawing of a figure sat down surrounded by a cloud of crows.

Can't Maintain was my favourite AJJ album for a long time. It marks the end of their acoustic era, with every song formed around the Bonnette-Gallaty core of acoustic guitar and string bass. It's also a stone-cold classic. Improving on the formula that People created, Can't Maintain brings stronger, sharper songwriting to the table, while retaining the punkish edge in songs like Self Esteem and We Didn't Come Here To Rock. The latter of which ends in an instrumental noise piece, in one of the many stylistic detours across this short yet stuffed album.

There's also devastating ballads like White Face Black Eyes, instrumental chaos in Kazoo Sonata, and spooky strings in Love in the Time of HPV, making for their most sonically adventerous album yet. I once saw someone describe this album as the best example of the album art matching the music, and I'm with them.

There's a fair argument to be made this is the greatest folk-punk album ever made - it's that good.

Best tracks: Love in the Time of Human Papillomavirus, Heartilation, Self Esteem, White Face Black Eyes

2. Christmas Island (2014)

The album cover for AJJ's album "Christmas Island". It has the band and album names along the top, above a colourful collection of items, including a white dog, seaweed, a scorpion, some mice, and more.

For some, Christmas Island marks a major point of change for the band - the birth of AJJ 2.0, if you will.

Knife Man was an ambitious and weird album, especially by their previous standards. But, Christmas Island takes its ideas to new extremes while simultaneously refining their underappreciated knack for a good hook. It's also barely a folk-punk album, in my opinion.

I'd happily bet that if your favourite AJJ album is People..., then Christmas is lower down your rankings. If that's the case, you'd be missing out on one of the most wonderfully bizarre albums of the band's career.

There's rockers galore to keep the old fans happy - my favourite being the incredible Children of God - but the new spaces the band goes into are incredible. There's the horrorcore slow-dance of Coffin Dance featuring Xiu Xiu, the rockabilly storm of Deathlessness, and Linda Ronstadt, which remains possibly my favourite AJJ song of all time. Hell, it's got a case for my favourite song of all time. It's that good.

God, I love this album. If it wasn't for how incredible the next record on this list is, it would be an easy #1.

Best tracks: Linda Ronstadt, Children of God, Temple Grandin Too, Coffin Dance

Best line: I can't handle astounding works of beauty, and I think I like my pretty pretty ugly.

1. The Bible 2 (2016)

The album cover for AJJ's The BIble 2, depicting a hand-drawn angel being pierced by arrows. Below the angel is text reading "NO more Shame. NO more Fear. NO more Dread." Behind the angel is a green and pink floral shape, reminiscent of a nucleus.

2016 was a big year for AJJ. Perhaps the biggest thing of all was them changing their name. AJJ is dead, long live AJJ, etc. etc.

In the eyes of the loud minority of fans who resent them for changing their name, The Bible 2 was doomed to fail from the start. Like Christmas Island before it, it's a glossier affair than some of their older works, at least for the most part. It's also one of their weirder records, where widescreen piano ballads like No More Shame sit next to new wave bops like the infectiously fun American Garbage. While it's less of a radical departure of what came before than Christmas Island, it's a bold sonic statement from a band who are unfairly pigeonholed as being one-note.

The Bible 2 certainly proves all doubters wrong, though. It's an absolute masterpiece, and the pinnacle of AJJ's career so far. Not a single second is wasted on this perfectly sequenced half-hour of power, and there's truly something for all kinds of AJJ fans here. Like their noiser side? Check the Nirvana-esque riffs of the beautifully self-referential Cody's Theme. Like short, sharp, folk-punk bursts of chaos? Terrifier has you covered in all its dadaist glory. Like them at their most emotional? Try listening to Junkie Church without feeling things, I dare you.

The Bible 2 isn't just AJJ at their best - its music at its best.

Best tracks: Junkie Church, Cody's Theme, White Worms, American Garbage

Best line: I love you 'cause I love you 'cause I can.

Listen to QSO's favourite AJJ songs in the playlist below:

AC is the Head of Written Content at QSO Media. Read more of their writing here.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page