It was a crazy day at +@HQ, and we may not have many friends at the post office tomorrow, but hopefully there will be some happy +@ fans this week #SEVENSEVENINCHES16 reblog
oh man there’s nothing quite like opening your email and seeing “Titus Andronicus has sent you a package!” #7x7
The Monitor - Titus Andronicus
I have to admit to a conflict of interest before you read anything else: I have decided to take this album to my grave. I want my casket to be lowered to the penultimate movement of “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” with its military drums and relentless pounding of the guitars. This has been the first and only album I have ever purchased in vinyl format. I did so because I wanted to keep the physical record near me at all times, hung up on the wall to remind me that great things can still be created in today’s music scene. It currently sits on my desk, watching my type this review from across the room. I simply cannot resist its greatness.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to try to be professional about this.
Titus Andronicus is a band that seemingly came out of nowhere (and by nowhere, I mean Glen Rock, New Jersey, the residents of which would probably use the two names interchangeably) and into a sound that was both familiar and original. They’re definitely a rock band, but with influences ranging from Neutral Milk Hotel to Nirvana to Pulp, it’s hard to tell. Like their Shakespearean name might imply, they’ve got a flair for the epic and dramatic, something they’ve tapped into quite a lot here on their sophomore effort. The majority of these songs easily breaking the five-minute mark - even lead single “A More Perfect Union” clocks in at nearly eight minutes - and that’s not even to mention the spoken word interludes or the high concept itself: a concept album about the Civil War. The band claims to release the album in commemoration to the 148th anniversary of the battle between the titular ship and the Merrimac, but mentions of ships and naval battles don’t really appear until the final track (named after the battle itself), so the band’s true intentions as to the nature of this album’s theme are up for grabs. And believe me when I say that’s the way they want it to be.
You see, just like a good work of literature, the album provides the framework for the listener to interpret what is really going on. Is it about the complicated nature of conflict? The pursuit of an enemy and the Jersey slides of “A More Perfect Union” as well as the criticisms behind “Richard II” could definitely point in that direction. Is it about failure? The frustrated final refrains behind “No Future Part III: Escape from No Future” and “Four Score and Seven” seem to say so. Or perhaps coming to terms with the necessity of a rival? That puts the aching ballad of “To Old Friends and New” and the rollicking fourteen minutes of “The Battle of Hampton Roads” up for serious consideration as centerpieces of the album. Perhaps it’s all of these things at once. Who knows? Titus Andronicus have their lips sealed.
In fact, they’re more worried about playing the music as best they can, something made so abundantly clear by just how much passionate energy is shoved through every single song on the album. Look no further than the pridefully cascading lead guitar lines in “A More Perfect Union,” the crowd-shouted resignation in the vocals of “No Future Part III: Escape from No Future,” the relentless drumming and sheared leads behind “Richard II,” the list goes on and on. Worthy of particular consideration is the forlorn harmonica that enters in between verses of the first movement of “Four Score and Seven,” only leading to the song’s blistering second half, full of cinderblock-heavy poundings in 3/4 and desperate, nearly-defeated vocals at the end, the whole band joining in for yet another triumphant failure of a song. The guest vocals on the album are a nice touch as well. Singer/lyricist Patrick Stickles invites his brother to sing along to “Theme from ‘Cheers,’” perhaps due to its allegedly biographical content, and “To Old Friends And New” features Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak, helping to add a gentler voice to the album’s solitary ballad. And definitely take the time out of your day to listen to all of The Monitor's closer - it may be a full fourteen minutes long, but it's easily the most epic track on the album, with each movement leading the listener with an increasing momentum all the way to the album's Pyrric peak. It's after listening to such a track that the general drag behind “A Pot In Which to Piss” makes sense - it was there to brood and to add contrast to the rest of the album. This is a band that's clearly thought of everything.
An armada of guest musicians who support the vision. A conceptual dream from which to draw inspiration. A band with nothing to lose, and that knows how to play like it, too. It’s a recipe for not only a good album, but a great one, one that will be remembered for years. And that’s exactly what Titus Andronicus has created here. In the future, you might hear people lament that “they don’t make them like this anymore,” but that’s a phrase that won’t work right now - The Monitor was released in 2010. Do you know what that means? We’re living in a time where bands like Titus Andronicus do exist, and they’re making albums like this one. Amazing.
Bottom Line: The Monitor is a masterful concept album full of epic songs that will surely go down in history as one of the best albums of the 2010’s, if not of all time.
"A band that’s clearly thought of everything" +@37 reblog