Titus Andronicus, "The Monitor"

74 Billboard Rating

It's not every day that a folksy punk band uses the Civil War as an extended metaphor for a young man's migration from New Jersey to Boston. But on its second album, "The Monitor," New Jersey-based Titus Andronicus has done just that. Over a Dinosaur Jr.-like guitar riff, the band opens the song "A More Perfect Union" with a quote from Abraham Lincoln before quickly transitioning to a reference of the Garden State Parkway. But the album's hero apparently hasn't found greener pastures in Boston. Alongside a twangy country fiddle on "Theme From 'Cheers,' " lead singer Patrick Stickles muses, "I need a timeout/I need an escape from reality." An oddly moving bagpipe melody closes the nearly 15-minute "The Battle of Hampton Roads," on which the protagonist admits defeat and returns home. "The Monitor" probably could've borrowed more firepower from the ironclad battleship for which it's named, but the album nevertheless meshes old-fashioned themes with a modern twist.--Erin Clendaniel

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