Titus Andronicus' new album The Monitor proves once again that rock and roll will always be a young man's game. It's audacious, it's spastic, it's raw, it's jam packed with vein-busting emotion, it's pissed and it takes the piss, and to top it off they're from New Jersey and recall the detached brilliance of Pavement and the casual cacophony of The Replacements when they mattered most.
Titus Andronicus are also a pop culture historian's wet dream, as they drop references to Abraham Lincoln, Paul Simon, New York to Boston public transportation, the civil war, minor and major league baseball, Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen (natch), The Heartbreakers, The Hold Steady, New Jersey, slavery, a couple of nods to Somerville (MA), the Confederate president Jefferson Davis, old folk song "John Brown's Body" whose melody was later used in the also referenced "Battle Hymn of The Republic", reckless New Jersey driving and the pro-Union Civil War rally monkey "Battle Cry of Freedom" (adapted over 100 years later by the same Billy Bragg in "There is Power In A Union"). And that's just the first song, the absolutely mesmerizing "A More Perfect Union" which moves from a punk rock spleen venting to a Gaelic reel before ending with an no-holds-barred quote from William Lloyd Garrison, a staunch, outspoken abolitionist, whose daring anti-slavery speech has been co-opted by many politicians over the years.
Take a listen as they rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Titus Andronicus - "Titus Andronicus Forever"
Titus Andronicus - "Titus Andronicus"
Pete Seeger - "John Brown's Body"
Judy Garland - "The Battle Hymn of The Republic"
The Harvesters - "Battle Cry of Freedom"
Billy Bragg - "There is Power in A Union"