Archive for titus andronicus

Go to Local 506 in October (With BAZAN update)

Posted in opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by Digger (Not Phelps)

UPDATE: Yesterday, it was announced that David Bazan will be performing at Local 506 on October 15. This is getting ridiculous. I know most people don’t know who David Bazan is, but he’s probably my favorite songwriter of all time and pretty much the only musician who I can say has really truly legitimately played a significant role in shaping my worldview.

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Every now and then I peruse the Cat’s Cradle and Local 506 schedules to try and find a good excuse to go to Chapel Hill for a night/weekend, and to get a good show out of it. Just a few minutes ago was one of those every now and thens. And holy crap is Local 506 killing me right now. Just as I’m getting settled into Norfolk, enjoying my good life here, the 506 goes and bitch-slaps me with a taunt of the awesomeness that is its October(ish) lineup.

Here’s what’s on it…

9/29 – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Depreciation Guild, Cymbals Eat Guitars

10/1 – The Twilight Sad, brakesbrakesbrakes, We Were Promised Jetpacks. (I must be at this show. I ****ing must! With pints and pints of Guinness, of course!)

(Starts at 1:20 mark)

10/6 – A Place to Bury Strangers

10/9 – Titus Andronicus

10/16 – Atlas Sound

10/19 – Japandroids (still probably my favorite album of the year so far by the way)

Oh, and did I mention the most expensive show is a measly twelve bucks?

Congratulations Local 506, you have kicked my ass. Kicked it you have!

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2008 Top “Tens” (part 4)

Posted in opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2009 by Digger (Not Phelps)

The Dropout Top Ten Albums of 2008…

10. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
It was pretty surprising for me to crank up opener “Halfway Home” and hear the ever so catchy arrangement of handclaps and “ba ba ba”s. This welcoming embrace of pop sensibilities without forsaking any of the attitude or New York art sound of their previous efforts is what makes Dear Science such a joy and should gain them a plethora of new listeners. For me, the high point is “Family Tree”, where an interracial romance is torn apart by prejudice, the primary poetic image being the narrating lover hung on the “gallows of your family tree”. But musically it sounds like the best song Coldplay could ever dream of writing

9. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
The Hold Steady broke out with their 2006 punk-infused take on Born to Run-era Springsteen, Boys and Girls in America. And you’d be forgiven for thinking they couldn’t really follow that up strong. But you should’ve stayed positive. (Sorry, that was terrible.) Craig Finn and his bar band of rabble-rousers continue to spin yarn about up and down Catholic kids from the Twin Cities who try to traverse existence when they’re equally drawn to sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, as well as their religious upbringing. Finn’s spoken-sung (more sung than usual here) lyrics are brilliant musings on such adolescence, less maddening than in the past as his writing and his voice have both matured along with his protagonists. As always, there are plenty of references to past THS songs and the story of Hallelujah (“Holly”), their little hoodrat friend. As for the music, well, it’s as strong as ever. If there’s a drop-off from Boys and Girls, it’s the out-there-for-these-guys “Navy Sheets”, which is disappointing because I was stoked when I heard that Patterson Hood appeared on the track. Too bad it’s the album’s weakest. Everything else is so strong.

8. Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark
No Truckers fans were happy to learn that Jason Isbell left the band, and it left me wondering how the album would turn out without the guy who penned some of DBT’s best tracks, like “Decoration Day”, “Outfit”, and “The Day John Henry Died”. But let’s not forget that Cooley and Hood had Gangstabilly, Pizza Deliverance, and the grand Southern Rock Opera before Isbell joined the band. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that BTCD kicks ass. That Isbell void is filled nicely by Hood’s own “The Righteous Path”, and bassist Shoanna Tucker’s first writing contributions end up being really welcome changes of pace on the album. Especially “The Purgatory Line”. The album’s weakness is that, at 19 songs, there’s some fat that could’ve been trimmed. If you cut out a few tracks (“Bob”, “Lisa’s Birthday”, “You and Your Crystal Meth”, which aren’t even bad but just don’t really fit) you’re talking about an album that rivals their best.

7. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Baroque pop, meet the Police. Police, meet baroque pop. Enjoy!!! And, in all seriousness, “Who gives a f— about an Oxford comma?” might be my favorite lyric of the year.

6. Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter III
What I love about Lil’ Wayne is that it’s just like he has to rap. It’s as if he’s got this uncontrollable urge to play with words and spit out whatever pops in his head. That’s why he’s everywhere and why he puts out 37 mixtapes a year. This ain’t a mixtape, though. It’s a purposefully structured album, filled to the brim with good beats and sick wordplay, even if it’s often just a bizarre string of stream-of-consciousness statements. It would be a fun activity to go count just how many WTF moments there are in Weezy’s catalogue. I’ll set the over/under at eleventy-thousand. Actually, that’s just on “A Milli” alone. So nevermind. “We pop ‘em like Orville Redenbacher.” That is all.

5. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

In 2007 my favorite Scottish export was The Twilight Sad. In 2008 it was Frightened Rabbit. I just think it’s getting rarer and rarer that you find entire albums of pop songs that all have their own identity and all succeed, if that makes sense. There are a lot of good albums that work all the way through, but the songs are so similar sounding they start to bleed together. This album is cohesive, but each track can stand on its own, from the propulsive opener “The Modern Leper” to the brief acoustic closer “Who’d You Kill Now?” I also love the way they turn something profane into something romantic and sweet. Lyrics like “You’re the shit, and I’m knee-deep in it.” Or, “It takes more than f—– someone to keep yourself warm.” True.

4. Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances
These guys came onto my radar out of nowhere and no album surprised me more in 2008. I mean, these guys are self-proclaimed nihilists. On their album, they read passages from the Shakespearean tragedy for which they’re named and from Albert Camus’ The Stranger. And that’s not even in the song that is titled “Albert Camus”. Their frontman sounds like Conor Oberst at his most scream-ish and angst-filled. Their myspace profile reads: “Titus Andronicus never sing about love, only hate. Titus Andronicus have no hope for the future. Titus Andronicus believe only in nothingness.” Oh really, Titus? If you’re so mean and scary, then why are your songs so catchy and clever and fun? And why is the title of your album a “Seinfeld” reference? Why are you so over the top that I can practically see Uli Kunkel, Franz, and Dieter standing beside you proclaiming “Yah Lebowski, vee believe in nahh-sing!” Hmm? Know what? I’ll play your game and say I don’t care. What I do care about is that your album is rip-roaring rockabilly punk that lands everything it throws and knows when and how to make mid-song shifts with the best of them. Congratulations, you nihilists you.


3. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

Not gonna lie, I didn’t expect much from this album. I heard a couple clips from it and my reaction was “meh”. Just another pop-punk group. Wrong. These are punks who listened to Tom Petty and their parents’ Springsteen and Tom Petty albums and that’s why they’re in a band. Not because of girls or fame or money or because it’s so hard to be young. But they definitely get the whole coming-of-age angle. They get the simplicities (“But boys will be boys and girls got those eyes that will cut you to ribbons sometimes.”) and the complexities (wondering if a friend heard his favorite song echoing one last time as he died). There’s no venom here. Very little angst. Just some guys who formed a band and wrote songs because they dig doing it. The charm never wears off.

2. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
In 2006, Justin Vernon broke up with his band and his girlfriend. He was depressed and he had mononucleosis of the liver. So he moved from North Carolina to Wisconsin, where he holed up all by himself in a cabin in the woods for the winter. He drank beer and he ate venison, which he hunted himself. And he wrote this album. Very spare and very pretty, with the sadness of the artist coming through clearly at times, songs like “Flume”, “Lump Sum”, and “Blindsided” really do sound like a winter in the woods.

1. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
The Stand Ins is a companion piece to 2007’s The Stage Names, which was originally conceived of as a double album. This second part looks a lot at fame and the people who heap it on others. The driving “Singer Songwriter” examines the nepotism of the entertainment industry as well as the banality of rich hipster kids who are into all the latest trends, but offer nothing to the world. “Starry Stairs” (like “Savannah Smiles” from The Stage Names) is about suicidal porn star Shannon Wilsey and the degrading “fame” of that profession that led to her demise. The epic build of “Blue Tulips” opens with the lyric “They’re waiting to hate you…” Rockingest track “Pop Lie” declares that pop stars are liars and their fans are dupes who are complicit in the lies when they sing along. And it’s a great power pop song that you’ll want to sing along with, ha. “On Tour With Zykos” is the swooning lament of a girl who wants her rock star lover to stay home and stay faithful or stay away altogether. “Calling and Not Calling my Ex” is the regretful lament of a boy who let a girl get away, and then the girl became a big movie star. The whole thing just continues to prove why these guys should be *gulp* really, really famous.