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Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

A More Perfect Union

Review of Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor

Photo By Bao NguyenBao NguyenEver since I first saw Fanfarlo during SxSW last year – even before, actually – I’ve been waiting for them to come to Toronto. And though a mid-December date was cancelled due to a stolen passport, it appears all systems are go for their debut this Friday night at Lee’s Palace… so why won’t I be there? Well, blame New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus.

After seeing more than a few glowing reviews of their new album The Monitor, I dug up my copy, popped it in the CD player and proceeded to have my ass kicked for the next 60-plus minutes. The American Civil War themes that run through the record and offer context to the spoken word clips that appear throughout make for good talking points, but what’s really important about The Monitor is that it’s an uncompromising rock record that’s as tuneful and honest as it is intense and aggressive and so booze-soaked, you can almost see the fumes coming out of the speakers. And while on paper, that’s what all rock music should be, in reality it’s quite a rare thing and so when you hear it done right – and The Monitor does it right – it’s an eye-opener.

As far as reference points go, Titus Andronicus beats the music writer to the punch via their own bio, pre-emptively stating, “Blah blah blah Springsteen blah blah blah beer blah blah blah beard blah blah blah Shakespeare yadda yadda yadda Seinfeld blah blah blah Conor Oberst in a vat of acid blah blah blah books”. Clever, but if they were being thorough there’d be a few more “blahs” separating references to The Replacements, Whiskeytown and The Hold Steady and truly, The Monitor finds Titus Andronicus following in their same dense, wordy, angst-ridden, despondent and triumphant footsteps. It sprawls and staggers, it stands up and falls down. And gets back up again.

So what’s this got to do with Fanfarlo and their delightful orchestral pop? Well, Titus Andronicus are going to be at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday night as well, and as much as I enjoy the Londoners and hope they have a great show, I kind of want/need to see Titus Andronicus and, if their live reputation is accurate, get my face torn off. Figuratively speaking.

Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles tells Spinner how he recruited the likes of Craig Finn and Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) to provide the dramatic readings interspersed throughout the album. Pitchfork solicits a guest list from the band and Exclaim, eMusic and The Georgia Straight have interviews.

MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part One)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part Two)
Video: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MySpace: Titus Andronicus

The Weekender talks to Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn about their new album Heaven Is Whenever, due out May 4.

Philadelphia Daily News, The Patriot Ledger, Victoria Advocate and JAM talk to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, who are in town this week for two nights at Lee’s Palace – April 6 and 7 – as well as an in-store at Sonic Boom at PM on Wednesday night. NYC Taper has a recording of their recent show in New York available to download.

White Rabbits have released a new video from last year’s It’s Frightening. They’re at Lee’s Palace on April 27.

Video: White Rabbits – “They Done Wrong, We Done Wrong”

Beatroute and Spinner talk to Spoon. The band stopped in at CBC last week to record a session for QTV.

Video: Spoon – “The Mystery Zone” (live on QTV)

The Quietus talks to The National’s Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner about the making of High Violet, due out in just over a month on May 11. They play Massey Hall on June 8 and 9. And I really have to go pick up my tickets for that.

The Line Of Best Fit and Georgia Straight talk to Retribution Gospel Choir’s Alan Sparhawk.

LCD Soundsystem have scheduled a North American tour in support of their new record This Is Happening, out May 18, and it includes a May 25 date at the Kool Haus. Tickets $35 in advance, on sale Friday.

Stream: LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”

The Music Slut asks eight questions of Steve Drozdt of The Flaming Lips. They’ve announced a July 7 date in Montreal, so can a Toronto date – their first in almost four years – be far off? I imagine not.

Chart, eye and Metro talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan about their contributions to the film Passenger Side, which premieres at the Royal tomorrow night and will be followed by an acoustic set from half of the ‘Chunk – Mac and Jim.

Interview and Under The Radar interview The Drums, whose debut album is due out June 7.

NPR interviews Sam Coomes of Quasi, who are in town at the Horseshoe on April 18.

Sounds Good Ink has a feature on Let’s Wrestle, who will be supporting Quasi on the aforementioned date (and tour).

Broward-Palm Beach New Times and Athens Banner-Herald have conversations with Arctic Monkeys bassist Nick O’Malley while News-Observer chats with guitarist Jamie Cook.

Doves’ guitarist Jez Williams talks to The Guardian about using the moon as a delay pedal and that the band have no plans to split, despite being in the career retrospective phase with the upcoming release of The Places Between: The Best Of Doves, due out April 20. Williams also tells BBC6 that he feels for new bands trying to get their careers started in this day and age.

Spinner and The Times chat with The Futureheads – their new record The Chaos is out in North America on June 1.

eGigs talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, who are at the Opera House on May 4.

The first single from The Pipettes’ new record Earth Vs Pipettes, out June 28, is now available to download. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the choruses in the song went, “Our love was saved by Dr. Leo Spaceman“? Yes? No? Sorry, been watching a lot of 30 Rock.

MP3: The Pipettes – “Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen”

OPB Music has a video session with The Clientele, The Montreal Miror an interview.

Magnet prepares to hand over the editor’s desk to David Gedge of The Wedding Present for a week with a Q&A. They kicked off their Bizarro 20th anniversary tour last week and will be at the Horseshoe on April 14. The Aquarian Weekly also has an interview.

PopMatters interviews Bernard Sumner of Bad Lieutenant.

Clash lists 12 things you didn’t know about Pet Shop Boys.

The Quietus celebrates the 20th anniversary and defends the legacy of Lush.

By : Frank Yang at 8:24 am
Category: General

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RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. Steve says:

    I hope your suggestion that the Flaming Lips Toronto show will be this ‘Imagine’ thing is wrong. I want a proper show, not SARS Fest II.

  2. andrew says:

    go see titus. you will NOT regret your decision.

  3. Frank Yang says:

    I don’t know anything official, but everything I’ve seen points to that being the case.

    that actually goes for both of the above comments.

  4. Bruce says:

    Re: The Pipettes and their Spaceman — it’s all in the pronunciation. You do the Meth!

  5. I am an Orchestra says:

    Thanks for the White Rabbits link, they are worth more attention than they are getting.

  6. Steve says:

    This might not happen now. The Lips are playing the Ottawa Blues Fest on July 10 and are in Louisville on July 11. Unless they come in for a crappy afternoon set and head to Ottawa that is.

    Maybe we’ll get a proper show on the 8th or 9th then. Even if it’s at the terrible Sound Academy.

  7. Frank Yang says:

    oh, that is interesting. HMMM.