Record Review: Titus Andronicus – “The Monitor”

Is it taboo to describe a band’s sound as progressive punk? Sure, sure, you slap the prefix “prog” in front of anything, and every cynical, hipster motherfucker starts bitching and complaining about how lame Yes and ELP are (Although I am not the fan I was, those guys can play the fuck out of their instruments, as well as being fairly creative songwriters). Therefore, when I use the musical concept of “progressiveness”, it is not to describe songs with twelve string guitar solos or epic adventures about technicolour dragon battles. Instead, I believe it should describe a song that ventures into various realms and realities within the space of 5-8 minutes.

After listening to The Monitor, it appears Titus Andronicus is totally down with being progressive. Full of grand tales about the Civil War, the fragility of society and relationships, the evilness of the Man and most importantly, getting nicely hammered, Titus Andronicus combines these themes with powerful arrangements spewing with punk, shoe-gaze and lo-fi, while channelling the raw, fuzzed out jams of Neutral Milk Hotel and the pristine, piano –addled, blue-collar mantras of Bruce Springsteen (frontman Patrick Stickles delightfully “borrows” from the Boss on the opening track).

On that note, it is important to point out that this album is about New Jersey. All the despair, sorrow, and anger that Stickles expresses on this album, it is obvious that this comes from growing up and living in a community that is shit on by the rest of the country, as well as being hampered by tough economic times. It’s the emotion that helps makes this album what it is. Listening to tracks like “A Pot in Which to Piss” and “Four Score and Seven”, filled with their trumpet-blowing, fist-pumping, Jeff Mangum-inspired madness, all I want to do is run for two hours with my hockey stick proudly in the air. Don’t ask, but do check out this album. You might not think it is the prog-punk tour de force that I think it is, but after listening to this, you finally stop searching for that copy of Evil Empire in order to get all riled up and passionate.- Luca Capone

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