October 31, 2012

Titus Andronicus Get Patriotic on Civil War-Themed 'Monitor' (Kenneth Partridge, 5/16/12, Spinner)

When you write a concept album based on the Civil War, as Titus Andronicus mastermind Patrick Stickles has done with 'The Monitor,' his band's recently-released sophomore album, you're bound to face some criticism. Already, some have labeled the record pretentious and ironic, criticisms Stickler staunchly denies.

"I've read a couple of things that refer to some element of ironic patriotism in our lyrics, which is completely off the mark," Stickles tells Spinner. "I really think America is the greatest country that's ever existed."

With the War Between the States as a metaphorical backdrop, Stickles uses the 10 songs on 'The Monitor' to explore his own internal conflicts. By the end of the album -- a 65-minute mix of ramshackle punk rock and spoken-word recitations of Civil War-era speeches and poems -- the singer learns a valuable lesson: "We have to account for our own happiness." [...]

"Even though we have a lot of problems, we also have the best ideas," he says. "We still have the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all [these] beautiful documents, and the idea that all men, or all humans, are created equal, and with work there is nothing you can't accomplish, and everyone deserves a fair shake," he says. "That is, you know, pretty much as good as it gets."

Titus Andronicus: Civil War Punk Rock (ROBERT CHRISTGAU, NPR)

The leader of Titus Andronicus, Patrick Stickles, isn't one of those cartoon punks who spell stupid with two Os. No short, snappy songs for this band -- on its debut album, his three-chord thrash was sprawling, ending with three seven-minute songs. So it's not too much of a surprise that the follow-up, The Monitor, mixes images of youthful angst with images of the Civil War. Quotations from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" even show up in "Richard II."

After college, Stickles left suburban Glen Rock, N.J., to join a girlfriend in Boston. There, he absorbed Ken Burns' The Civil War documentary and did a lot of related reading as his love life fell apart.

Such was the genesis of The Monitor. Oddly, however, the album doesn't reference either of these inspirations all that much. Instead, historical pain and personal pain combine to inspire alternately furious and dejected meditations on the moral confusion of Stickles' generational cohort, who has "never seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Watch the full video at Baeblemusic.com
Posted by at October 31, 2012 7:28 PM

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