Titus Andronicus The Monitor

Titus Andronicus The Monitor
Loosely based on the Civil War, Titus Andronicus's second album, The Monitor, is another symphony of gruff punk rock performed in the key of scorn. Following up 2008's derisive, Shakespeare-citing, angst-ridden debut, The Airing of Grievances (named after a Seinfeld "Festivus" reference), the New Jerseyans have cooked up an epic 65-minute concept album to suit their infinite disdain. Front-man Patrick Stickles' cracking scowl (imagine an even more disgusted Conor Oberst, circa his grungemo band Desaparecidos) is a rousing tool that quotes Abraham Lincoln and calls for a Guinness, always triggering the distorted guitars and rollicking climaxes, not unlike the way fellow statesmen Springsteen calls on his E-Street Band to complete his anthems. The Monitor is a much more pervasive effort than Grievances. Pianos, horns, fiddles, bagpipes and a cast that includes members of Vivian Girls, Ponytail, the Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Wye Oak's Jenn Wassner, who duets on the softy titled "To Old Friends and New," all add to the concept. But don't let this concept fool you: sure, it may end with 14 minutes of quiet-to-loud cacophony, but Titus Andronicus are still masters of inciting a riot by resorting to name-calling with a hooky gang chant like "you will always be a loser" ("No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future") to remind us that nobody does a hate song quite like these boys from the Jersey shore. (XL)