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More people need to notice that this album is actually pretty groundbreaking and such an incredible turnaround from a primarily low-fi band. The Monitor is a concept album from an unlikely garage rock band from New Jersey. World, meet Titus Andronicus. They may look like hipsters who would have trouble filling a local bar with an audience but these guys’ music is fit for a stadium. There really isn’t any albums being released like this; The Hold Steady try I guess, but in my opinion they fail massively. And despite the generic ‘indie rock’ there’s so much more to the sound than that. For instance, the last song has bagpipes flowing in and out of the whole 14 minutes and perfectly fading out the album.
‘Epic’ might be one of the most overused terms when describing music, especially in blogs, but The Monitor certainly deserves this tag. I for one think their debut, The Airing Of Grievances sounded a little too much like a jam session a group of friends would have in their mothers basement whilst tea was on the stove. There’s even some spoken word thrown in there too. All in all it was a little on the rough side – With The Monitor, all this is much more thought out and smoothed down.
The Monitor is something Conor Oberst should’ve released back in his heyday. In fact, the whole of this perfectly constructed album is extremely similar to Let’s Not Shit Ourselves (To Love And Be Loved), one of Oberst’s greatest tracks. It’s fair to say that the lead singer, Patrick Stickles, was most likely influenced by old Bright Eyes material, and has improved upon what Oberst achieved musically with that band. Oberst, stand down.
It’s ridiculous how much Titus Andronicus have achieved in such a short amount of time. The euphonic spoken word narratives add to the epic stomp the album is marching. Even big bands such as The Hold Steady and the small NY garage rock ones such as Ponytail have all been roped in to this sprawling album. All of these friendly musicians lend a hand in both producing and singing.
It’s over an hour in length with half of the songs over seven minutes long. It might be hard for new listeners to spend 1 hour and 5 minutes on an album that might not push their buttons, but with its long songs with multiple sound changes there is space to breath. It wouldn’t just benefit the band if they became big from The Monitor, but if all of your friends new their songs you’d often be indulging in drunken sing-along’s. The album is full of shining repetitive choruses accompanied by rambling drums. Four Score And Seven is the best example of this. It’s over eight minutes long and starts with a slow build up with Stickles’ gravelly voice, okay, not very original, but soon shunts listeners with its fucking epic sing-a-long chorus, yelping “You won’t be laughing so hard!” over and over again.
It might be a bit of an outrageous statement to say that in years to come The Monitor will be sitting there with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea as one of the most overlooked albums of its time only to become one of the most worshipped albums of the indie universe. But this has potential. It’d be nice to think that this album will be discovered by many people, young and old, but unfortunately won’t reach past the ears of a few open minded indie kids, people with a Rapidshare account and dedicated Pitchfork readers. This surely is a rock album to be remembered in decades to come.