10 Songs, 1 Hour 5 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

What is it about New Jersey that spawns so many bands embedded with a trace of Springsteen-ian DNA? Is it in the water? From the get-go, “A More Perfect Union” pays homage to Bruce Almighty, though the band cloaks their nod in flannel-shirted, Stink-era Replacements-inspired grit and snot. (In truth, it’s mostly vocalist Patrick Stickles’ uncanny similarity to Paul Westerberg’s gravelly yelp that conjures that band.) Titus Andronicus’ debut, The Airing of Grievances, evoked the same musical touchstones, but this time around the whiskey-soaked spirit of the Pogues also permeates, and the band feels more focused, the production is greatly improved, and it’s a loopy Civil War theme that conjures a chuckle, rather than gnarled nods to Albert Camus and uh, Jerry Seinfeld. The readings here are from Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis instead of Camus’ “The Stranger,” but that doesn’t mean the band’s bare-knuckled punch is any more polished or polite. If anything, The Monitor’s flammable guitars and yearning howl evoke that youthful ache for finding the meaning of life — or maybe just another beer — with palpable fervor and certain longing.

EDITORS’ NOTES

What is it about New Jersey that spawns so many bands embedded with a trace of Springsteen-ian DNA? Is it in the water? From the get-go, “A More Perfect Union” pays homage to Bruce Almighty, though the band cloaks their nod in flannel-shirted, Stink-era Replacements-inspired grit and snot. (In truth, it’s mostly vocalist Patrick Stickles’ uncanny similarity to Paul Westerberg’s gravelly yelp that conjures that band.) Titus Andronicus’ debut, The Airing of Grievances, evoked the same musical touchstones, but this time around the whiskey-soaked spirit of the Pogues also permeates, and the band feels more focused, the production is greatly improved, and it’s a loopy Civil War theme that conjures a chuckle, rather than gnarled nods to Albert Camus and uh, Jerry Seinfeld. The readings here are from Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis instead of Camus’ “The Stranger,” but that doesn’t mean the band’s bare-knuckled punch is any more polished or polite. If anything, The Monitor’s flammable guitars and yearning howl evoke that youthful ache for finding the meaning of life — or maybe just another beer — with palpable fervor and certain longing.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
207 Ratings
207 Ratings
perch15 ,

An album you can Care about.

It has been difficult--for him, anyway--to really Care about bands the way he did when he was 15, 22 or even 25. Part of it is coming to terms with the nature of his youthful rage, part is being forced to care about other People and Things. And a final part is simply waving the white flag toward that kid he used to be. Because he woke up one morning, and he realized that that kid has a mortgage, a wife, a couple kids, and can't catch a 11:00 show on a Tuesday night. So he doesn't really Care about bands anymore. He still loves the music, the Rock of those years between 8th Grade and college--his Achtung Baby digipak, his copy of The Real Ramona that he stole from his college radio station, and his Nuggets box sets. He still goes to see Springsteen when he comes through town--because he still loves rock and roll, and its SPRINGSTEEN. But he doesn't Care. And then he hears The Hold Steady on his satellite radio in his Family Car. (He can't listen to over-the-air anymore. It depresses him). And he hears himself--right there, right then--reflected in the music. Three years later, Craig Finn yelps through a set at Pitchfork and he shouts every word right back, and he's shocked, because its been awhile since he Cared. But the feeling is fleeting, and life encroaches, and pretty soon its all Concrete Blonde, Pearl Jam and another reissue of Disintegration.

The one day he's sitting on his Ikea couch in the house he bought (but can't sell) trying to stay awake for an hour--just one hour, for Christ's sake-- after his kids go to bed, and he checks all the sites he used to check ten times a day, and he sees a video of a song and he doesn't even hesitate. Because the record store is a click away, now, right? He doesn't have to get up. He doesn't have to get a babysitter. He just points, clicks, and an hour later he realizes that it happened again. He Cares.

He knows the band name comes from Shakespeare. He knows the quotes from Lincoln, Davis and Whitman. He's heard the Westerberg growl, the Yow yelp and the Mascis moan. He know the Ragged Glory guitar tone, the martial drums and the shout alongs. None of it is new. Yet he Cares. He listens to an Album again. He reads liner notes. He dissects lyrics. He remembers what it was like to expect more from yourself and realize that it was his own fault. He sees the Glory of risk and the pitfalls of potential. He Cares.

And if he Cares, he feels like maybe You should Care too. So he types. And he calls. And he tells. And for a little while, he remembers. He plays it a little too loud, a little too often. And he's happy and sad, and angry and disappoints, all at once. And when he realizes it, he smiles, because its been a long time since he's breathed so deep in the Sweet and the Stink of rock and roll that Matters. It's been a long time since he Cared.

Tim de ,

DO IT.

Unbelievable sophomore effort from this great Jersey band! Think Springsteen meets Bright Eyes, meets New Jersey Punk, meets Abe Lincoln! So good, I can't stop listening to it - and it's NOT just because I'm from Bergen County! Heart wrenching, soulful and powerful as anything that's going to come out this year. Buy it, and then rate it.

David W. ,

Top Tier of 2010

You're crazy if you don't think this album is awesome. I bought the hard copy, and you should, too, because these are nice guys, and they need the support. Spread the word, let's build this band into the monolith they deserve to be!

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