Patriotism: A Little Distorted
The second album from New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus just hit the shelves (previously being available for free on their MySpace) and the American Legion couldn’t be prouder. Titled The Monitor, their heavy distorted shoegaze rock album is rich with American Civil War references, even named after the first ironclad warship produced by the U.S. Navy. You’ll find more than the usual gritty anthem vocals and literary allusions on The Monitor; the album also features guest appearances by Ponytail, Wye Oak, The Hold Steady, Hallelujah The Hills, Spider Bags and Vivian Girls.
A monologue of the U.S. Constitution is what opens The Monitor on “A More Perfect Union.” This segues into steady, low guitar distortion, rhythm drums, and finally Patrick Stickles’s inspired yet indistinct vocals. The dissonant harmonization typical of Titus Andronicus is omnipresent and so are the pseudo-patriotic quotes that they manage to identify with. After expending a great deal of liveliness with the copious high energy songs in addition to a few slower ballads like “To Old Friends and New”, “Battle of the Hampton Roads” closes The Monitor well in an enthusing fourteen minutes. Referring to this track, Stickles stated that “releasing this record is our way of celebrating the 148th anniversary of this historic event.”
Over the five short years of their existence, Titus Andronicus defined their style as the punks of shoegaze rock. On The Monitor, they continue lavishly in this direction with coarse guitar distortion blazing the trail. Whether this ten track, hourlong record is meant to be a concept album or merely a tribute, American music salutes you all the same, Titus Andronicus.