To me, the truest form of punk, is loud, overwhelming, and at times vastly unclean. It links directly back to the Stooges and the Ramones, in a time when emotion reason were the driving forces behind music (as opposed to skill and talent). The band, Titus Andronicus, is a curious blend of undeniable passion and instrumental dexterity. They come from New Jersey, their name comes from a Shakepearen tragedy, and their first CD The Airing of Grievances 2008 is well worth a listen.
The first song on the CD "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ" speaks light years about their intriguing amalgam. For the first minute and fifteen seconds the song consists of a lone distorted guitar rubbing up against angsty vocals (Conner Oberst are you in there?). But at precisely 1:15 the rest of the band surges forward with layers of drums and even more thrashing guitar feedback. The instrumental medley continues for about a minute until the noise instantaneously yeilds to an epic guitar solo, which in turn, evolves into a triumphant parade of melodies to the end. Wow. What an opener.
If that isn't enough, everytime I hear "Joset Of Nazareth's Blues" I could swear on Amy's Ice Cream that it is a Bruce Springsteen song. Whether they own up to it or not these boys picks up some of Springsteen's working class blues living near the Jersey shore. Wait till you hear the harmonica and the excellent chorus "you don't believe me NOOOoooooooo, oh, but you WILL. YOU WILL."
So if you ever wondered what the lo-fi songs of the Velvet Underground would sound like with The Jesus and Mary Chain's distorted guitars with Conor Oberst's distressed vocal inflections with hints of Springsteen's american blues...and in the tradition of punk, it's always best live. You can find out for yourself tonight in Austin when Titus Andronicus performs at Mohawk.