On their debut, 2008’s The
Airing of Grievances, this Jersey band showed off the best of high-brow and
low-brow culture, combining the sweaty drunken-rock of the Replacements and
Pogues with brainy lyrics that sounded like Craig Finn (from The Hold Steady,
who guest here) with a few extra post-grad degrees. On this ambitious follow-up, built on a civil
war theme, they loose some of their energy and power – the closest they come to
an anthem this time is a song where they keep chanting “the enemy is
everywhere!” Then again, that’s
preceded by line about flag-waving so that could just be a canny take on
patriotism, stuck alongside their humorous pokes at their home-state
(“Baby, we were born to die”).
Plus, few bands take down-and-out as a badge of pride like these guys,
turning “you will always be a loser” into a triumphant refrain about
themselves (or at least their protagonists).
Tracks: “Titus Andronicus Forever,” “Theme
From ‘Cheers'” JASON GROSS