I tried to like The Airing Of Grievances because New Jersey dudes with big beards/bookshelves are close to my heart (and mirror), but I couldn’t always get past the nagging Bright Eyes moments. A common enough comment, yeah, and not at all unfounded. That said, I find myself listening to Titus Andronicus’s second album, the Civil War/NJ-themed The Monitor quite a bit. Not because Patrick Stickles wrote an amusingly accurate takedown of Vice culture: The songs rage more powerfully and with more direction (i.e. the ragtag has focus). You no longer need to qualify things by saying they’re great live, or whatever … One of the best tracks is raucous opener “A More Perfect Union.” It’s best enjoyed in the context of the album, where it bleeds into “Titus Andronicus Forever”‘s chants of “the enemy is everywhere,” but it does fine enough on its own. A great, burly kickstart to the work week. Now that the Boss sports a cheesy L.A. tan, why not?
The Monitor is out 3/9 via XL. Outside of the band proper, it features guest spots from members of the Hold Steady, Wye Oak, Vivian Girls and Ponytail. There really is a concept here, says Stickles:
The Monitor is more or less a “concept album” –- that is to say, it uses the American Civil War of 1861-1865 as an extended metaphor for the concerns addressed in a somewhat linear narrative. In said narrative, our hero leaves his humble birthplace of New Jersey — the oppressive and stifling qualities of which were discussed ad nauseam about one album ago –- for the greener pastures of Boston, Massachusetts. His thesis –- “the enemy is everywhere” –- is put to the ultimate test as he pontificates on the topics of regional identity, emotional anesthetization, and the heavy yoke of trying to live decently in indecent times. All the while, he is forced to wonder whether said American Civil War was truly won or lost, or even completed. Will he find the supportive environment and like-minded compatriots he dreams of? Or will he be forced to leave his newly adopted home in ideological disgrace? What does it mean to be an American in 2009 anyway? Who are our so-called “friends” and how actually friendly are they? Is it necessary, or even a good idea, for an indie rock album to ask these sorts of questions? The Dark Knight, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Taming of the Shrew also fit in there somewhere.
There’s also a tour. The pre-SXSW dates are all-ages in-stores.