Thursday, January 6, 2011

TITUS ANDRONICUS: THE MONITOR



XL Recordings

According to the music video for "A More Perfect Union," New Jersey's Titus Andronicus were already my new favourite band. No questions asked. But their 2010, American Civil War-themed album The Monitor is a tougher nut to crack.

First of all, it's weird. It's got all the raw, punk-rock vocals and indie quivers, heart-on-its-sleeve melodies and soul I was expecting. But, buried beneath the fuzzy distortion and punk rock sing alongs, there's something else going on.

Still, in a blurry haze of awkward voices, I like it. It's dark and thoughtful. An infectious blend of Fake Problems' indie awkwardness, beard-and-flannel, folk-punk bravado, Billy Bragg and Bruce Springsteen.

"Tramps like us, baby we born to die," sings Patrick Stickles on "A More Perfect Union", an introverted twist on fellow New Jerseyan Bruce Springsteen's famous "Born to run."

Stickles sounds drunk and
The Monitor, packed with history and sentiment, uses the Civil War as a metaphor for the bleakness of modern, New Jersey life (or life in general). For example, the Monitor is the USS Monitor and closing track "The Battle of Hampton Roads" references the Monitor's famous encounter with the CSS Virginia in 1862, the battle that made Abraham Lincoln declare, "I am now the most miserable man living."

"The enemy is everywhere..."

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