Evening lads and lasses, this here is a new segment in which I wax lyrical about things that I love and then advocate as to why you should love them too. This weeks installment is New Jersey Indie/Punk outfit Titus Andronicus.
This is my favorite new band of the past couple o’ years. They formed in 2005 but I didn’t get into them until sometime early this year. And they may well have changed my life… infinitely for the better. Their driving post-punk immediacy and cerebral lyrical style speaks directly to my self-frustrated desire to be so much more than I am. Their first commercial album, The Airing of Grievances, released in 2008 is a masterclass in the dirty, angry and meaningful tirade. It excites my blood like no other record of my time. Perhaps the pinnacle, but by no means the be all and end all of the album is ‘Fear and Loathing in Mawah NJ’ which is both technically and emotionally amazing….give it a listen.
The next full release was 2010’s The Monitor. This album was at first to me a step down from the raw energy of The Airing of Grievances. I found it to be a much more polished and as such less ‘real’ affair. Boy was I wrong. This is a musical journey like no other. The Monitor is a Civil War concept album that just wont let up. The songwriting and musical tendencies are enough to drive this particular reviewer to euphoria. The climaxes of A More Perfect Union, To Old Friends and New (see below) and The Battle of Hampton Roads pretty much make my day every time I listen to them. Patrick Stickles’ lyrical mastery simply slays me each time. I feel as though I am enriched by each listening.
I saw them live at the Tractor in Ballard on September 12th 2010 and it was an experience that handily transcended the seemingly ambivalent crowd. I would have preferred a more boisterous experience (see Gogol Bordello) but nothing could have detracted from the spell that Titus Andronicus cast over me that night. An album which heavily quotes Shakespeare whilst also being an overall reference to a Seinfeld episode coupled with a stunning tribute to America’s most traumatic war leads me to feel nothing but reverence for a band which seems to not take itself too seriously at the same time as honoring its craft completely. Everybody should give them a listen… extensively. Their shows are thrilling and their music inspiring. My first listen was when I learned, in Glen Rock, everybody calls a spade a spade.