The New Jersey indie rock band Titus Andronicus has recorded a new album, a follow-up to our 2008 (2009?) release, The Airing of Grievances. This new album, The Monitor, will see release thanks to our friends at XL Recordings on March 9th, 2010, the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, wherein the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia entered into their epic struggle off the coast of Virginia.
The Monitor is more or less a "concept album" – that is to say, it uses the American Civil War of 1861-1865 as an extended metaphor for the concerns addressed in a somewhat linear narrative. In said narrative, our hero leaves his humble birthplace of New Jersey - the oppressive and stifling qualities of which were discussed ad nauseam about one album ago – for the greener pastures of Boston, Massachusetts. His thesis – "the enemy is everywhere" – is put to the ultimate test as he pontificates on the topics of regional identity, emotional anesthetization, and the heavy yoke of trying to live decently in indecent times. All the while, he is forced to wonder whether said American Civil War was truly won or lost, or even completed. Will he find the supportive environment and like-minded compatriots he dreams of? Or will he be forced to leave his newly adopted home in ideological disgrace? What does it mean to be an American in 2009 anyway? Who are our so-called "friends" and how actually friendly are they? Is it necessary, or even a good idea, for an indie rock album to ask these sorts of questions? The Dark Knight, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Taming of the Shrew also fit in there somewhere.
The Monitor was recorded during August of 2009, under the watchful eye of producer and engineer Kevin McMahon (who oversaw our first album, as well as Pussy Cats by the Walkmen, Son of the Tiger by the Big Sleep, and Promises Promises by Die! Die! Die! among others), at his studio - Marcata Recording - in New Paltz, NY. The usual suspects from the world of Titus Andronicus were all in attendance, as well as an all-star cast of luminous friends (members of Ponytail, Wye Oak, Vivian Girls, Hold Steady, etc.) and a generous assortment of colorful New Paltz locals. The aforementioned Kevin McMahon also did the mixing during September and October, and Greg Calbi did the mastering (so chosen because he is the only person alive who can claim involvement in both The Chemistry of Common Life by Fucked Up and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell by Meat Loaf) in early November.
So what does all this sound like? It has long passages of ambient drones, blazing saxophone, pianos homages to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," complete marching drumlines, Thunder Tube solos, fourteen-minute Billy Bragg knock-offs, backwards liturgical pieces, bombastic country duets, garbage cans hit with tambourines, choirs of angels with bromantic faces, probably too many spoken word interludes lifted from cassette tapes, and, of course, the hissy-fit punk songs and off-key warbling we have come to expect from Titus Andronicus. Did I mention that this record is sixty-five minutes long? Because that's kind of important. Through and through, it is a wholehearted and potentially ill-advised grab for some sort of imaginary brass ring, the sound of a band desperate for success and defiantly unafraid of failure. That was the idea, at least.
Blah blah blah Springsteen blah blah blah beer blah blah blah beard blah blah blah Shakespeare yadda yadda yadda Seinfeild blah blah blah Conor Oberst in a vat of acid blah blah blah books.
Anyway, the record will be heralded, like the Silver Surfer preceeding Galactus, by the release of the first single, "Four Score and Seven," to be made available digitally and as a double-A-side 7" on February 9th (Abraham Lincoln's 201st birthday, 201 being the area code of Glen Rock, NJ). Upon the record's release (March 9th, remember), Titus Andronicus will embark on a nationwide tour, hereafter to be known as "The Monitour," which will carry them from coast to coast, including a record release show in New York City and appearances at the 2010 SXSW conference. The Monitour will be a multimedia extravaganza that will hopefully leave all attendees shaken to the core of their very being, or something. Any questions that remain will be answered in an extensive user's guide, to be made available digitally around the time of the record's release (which, don't forget, is on March 9th). Further information will be available via a making-of-the-album documentary, which will be the grand finale to the acclaimed internet series, "Titus TV."
The Monitor will be available as a compact disc or as a double vinyl LP, both with gorgeous artwork by Nolen Strals, vocalist of Double Dagger and co-author of the recently published textbook, Lettering and Type, or in regular old MP3 format, featuring no gorgeous artwork at all. The tracklisting and cover can be found below, along with a video trailer created by official Titus Andronicus documentarian and the mastermind behind "Titus TV," Alex Tretiak, MLS, which will hopefully stoke the fires of yr anticipation.
It is our dearest hope that you will find favor in our latest effort, and that the next year will find us the toast of the indie rock world. If not, well, that is okay, too, for we punks believe that the tree falling in the forest does make a noise, and of all those unheralded falling trees, we want to be the loudest. Hear us, or don't, at yr discretion and/or own peril.