I’m a record executive and I have a posh office in the top floor of some high-priced New York real estate. Or, I’m a record executive and I have an office which is cluttered with boxes of records and cds which were over ordered and under sold. Where my office is and what my office looks like isn’t important. I’m a record executive and a young, spunky band comes in my office and they tell me about their new album — It’s a concept album using the American Civil War as an extended metaphor for a young man’s journey away from his ancestral home in New Jersey to his new home in Boston — and you know what I tell them? I would say, “You’re not Sufjan Stevens. You’re not Green Day. If you were Sufjan Stevens I would have never given you a record contract. If you were Green Day I would tell them, ‘Fantastic, guys. Now go home and write some three-minute songs about women, booze, rockin’ out, and throwin’ up in your best friends bath tub.’ You know what I’m going to tell you? Go home and write some three-minute songs about women, booze, rockin’ out and throwing up in your best friends bath tub and don’t come back here ’til you do.”
Three months pass and the young, spunky, punk-ish band returns with a completed album. It’s called the Monitor and from the first minute it’s apparent they didn’t pay attention to one single word I had previously said. It has rambling, mind to mouth narratives like an over-eager Bright Eyes, sections of workingman punk recalling The Dropkick Murphys and bleary eyed pub ballads worthy to be mentioned along side The Pogues. There’s screaming guitar solos, triumphant horns and marching band beats. The lyrics borrow from Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen, and old battle hymns, sometimes it’s done subtlely other times more overtly. It screams, shreds, ramble-tambles, rollicks and rocks for sixty-five minutes. And oh yeah, there’s lots of civil war imagery.
I look at the young, spunky, young, punk-ish band in my office, Titus Andronicus, and admit I was wrong, this time, and I tell them, “Next time, guys, how ’bout some three-minute songs about women, booze, rockin’ out and throwing up in your best friends bath tub — Not a whole album, mind you, but maybe just a couple tracks to break up all the six and seven minute stuff.” 8 out of 10 on The Rockometer.
The Monitor by Titus Andronicus will be out tomorrow, March 9th on XL/Beggars. The band will be in town for a very special in-store performance at My Mind’s Eye Records in Lakewood that night at 7PM.