Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin, Ireland. 27, history, politics & law graduate
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Jan 22
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Yo, punks!

Have you any thinkpieces/reviews/blog ramblings on Titus Andronicus’s Local Business that you think I should read?

Titus Andronicus crowdsourced criticism
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This photo from two-and-a-bit years ago, taken on the way home from seeing Titus Andronicus live in Whelan’s. I miss snow like this - all we’ve got this week, where I am in Dublin at least, has been a smattering and it looks like that’ll be it for this winter. I’ve just downloaded Local Business (they didn’t get a UK release deal or something, so it’s not on Spotify here) and going to go out for a walk and listen to it for the first time.

This photo from two-and-a-bit years ago, taken on the way home from seeing Titus Andronicus live in Whelan’s. I miss snow like this - all we’ve got this week, where I am in Dublin at least, has been a smattering and it looks like that’ll be it for this winter. I’ve just downloaded Local Business (they didn’t get a UK release deal or something, so it’s not on Spotify here) and going to go out for a walk and listen to it for the first time.

Titus Andronicus punk snow
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Apr 29
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That’s another complicated claim. Plenty of rock music in the 80s still had political and social value, right? What was vanishing, perhaps, wasn’t so much meaningful content as the presence of a single, broad community translating it into universal meaning. More communities like that would coalesce— hip-hop built a nation every bit as robust and responsive as the one those early rock critics wrote about, and offered up the same incitements to social change. But the consensus, these days, is that entropy reigns: Communities always fragment and subdivide. With music, there are only so many people toward whom you can launch words like “us” and “we.”
punk Titus Andronicus
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perpetua:

Titus Andronicus
“No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”

Tom Scharpling and Rob Hatch-Miller strike again! Unlike their New Pornos and Ted Leo videos, this Titus clip doesn’t go for laughs. Instead, it conveys genuine New Jersey pride and the band’s scruffy, D.I.Y. charm. I’m not even much of a fan and it looks like it would’ve been extremely fun to be at any of the performances shot for this video.

(Source: youtube.com)

Titus Andronicus
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Apr 08
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"I was like, ‘This is the greatest punk band from my ancestral homeland of Ireland, and it makes me sick,’" says Stickles of the experience.

Titus Andronicus ‘Furious’ After Tour With Pogues, Band Shows Them No ‘Respect’ - Spinner (h/t)

I think I see your problem there… for example, in last weekend’s Irish Times:

"Perhaps with such events in mind, the band’s guitarist, Philip Chevron, says The Pogues were reviled in Ireland. “Nowhere in the world do people ‘get’ The Pogues less than they do in Ireland,” he says."

or today’s:

"You have to factor in acts such as Eminem and The Pogues, two of the most vital voices of their generation, both of whom took a critical beating for “misappropriation”."

Whatever else they might be, the Pogues are emphatically not the greatest punk band from Ireland. In my mind that honour goes either to Chevron’s old band the Radiators (from Space), or to the Undertones (from Derry). Though ironically I’m basing this on the American form of jus solis rather than the Irish and European tradition of jus sanguinis - except it’s more than birthplace, it’s about where you live and grow up, and blood hardly comes into it. Heritage is great, and the Irish-American and Irish-descended in Britain communities have their own traditions, but Ireland still is an actual country, you know?

irish punk titus andronicus radiators undertones
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Jan 19
Permalink das racist vampire weekend arcade fire the suburbs Titus Andronicus
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Jan 13
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I have some commentary! Robyn sold LESS than Joanna Newsom! Did that surprise anyone else?

$30 Project: marathonpacks: Data

No! Robyn will never ever ever ever never ever sell many records. She’s here. No buys her albums. Get used to it. And I mean this in the nicest possible, Robyn-loving, Robyn record-buying way. At this point, though, I think she could change her name to a symbol that means “Everyone who ever mentions my name must immediately mention how popular they wish I were,” and then they could save us (me) the time it takes to run through the philosophical question of why popularity is important, in a broader sense.

I will write two thousand word essays about Robyn’s work, is all I’m saying, but I will also listen to Katy Perry ten times as much when all is said/done.

(via bmichael)

Agreed (I haven’t bought her albums - but I will do, sometime). However, isn’t part of the point that Joanna Newsom is not really a ‘popular’ artist either? Except among NPR-listening, vinyl-buying indie types that do/do not read Hipster Runoff, amongst whom Have One On Me became a sort of fetish item (lots of Vinyl Sunday appearances). She may have a wider critical acclaim - and often it was almost as intense as Robyn’s - but also a different cachet, and maybe that was what made up much of the difference between 48,754 and 23,869.

Also in the X sold more/less than Y game, No Age (13,802) and Titus Andronicus (26,090) jumped out at me. I reckon the latter was widely judged to be better, and No Age may have been trading on recycled buzz, but I suspect a large part of the difference might come from relatively unreconstructed punk fans who still buy CDs and vinyl in small but significant numbers, and who would be less inclined to go for No Age’s indie/noise slant on the genre. All that “Titus Andronicus give punk a kick up the backside” commentary can’t have escaped, you know, actual punks.

But then again, these possibly aren’t huge differences given the natural variability of tastes, promotion, or perceived quality that go into “buying an album”. So even idle speculation is probably pointless.

(via bmichael)

punk pop robyn no age Titus Andronicus
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Dec 27
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moneyfire:

#1 TOP 10 2010: The Monitor, Titus Andronicus 
This list started with a clear number 1 and as much as I relistened to the years’s music nothing came close to dislodging The Monitor. Titus wrote an album that is a sprawling punk expanse that at times is flawed but as a whole is perfect. From a criticism standpoint I guess I need to disclose that this album maps very closely to my life at times. My old man is from Jersey and at times in life when there was work for me in NJ I would live at his place. I do believe that understanding the geography that Stickles is working with helps to open up some of the text of the album much in the same way that knowing Dublin helps to open up Joyce a bit. There is simply something about waiting/taking the Fung Wah bus that can’t really be explained. 
Geography aside, the overarching theme of “The Enemy is Everywhere” rings true throughout the album. Its something I think I understand viscerally. Growing up in a small, semi-isolated (both geo and culture) towns the enemy is everywhere. The people in power be it social or authority surround you and suffocate you. Your friends, half bonded, through being outcasts can be the enemy, if they don’t get out they’re folded into the same social structure that used to unite. You’re the enemy. The doubt (“you will always be a loser”), the complacency, the drugs, the booze all have their own tempting pitfalls that internally divide. Perhaps these elements aren’t cleanly explicated throughout the whole of the album but the album is soaked in the sentiment. 
Musically the album is still pretty much what you would have expected from Titus. Raw, energetic, Stickles’ ripped ragged voice drawn across verses with the occasional sing-along chorus. Not so much an evolution as an expansion the album sees Titus teasing and pulling the strands of their sound, trying to find new space to play with. In some places it works really well and in others they sort of lose their focus but I do believe that on the whole the longer form suits them well. 
Its tough to sum up really. I love this album to death, this is something I will listen to for the rest of my life. It resonates on a really deep personal level for me and for that reason its tough to come to a critical point of view of the whole LP. When the album is over I just want to play it again. 

"I do believe that understanding the geography that Stickles is working with helps to open up some of the text of the album much in the same way that knowing Dublin helps to open up Joyce a bit" - I need to make a musico-literary pilgrimage to New Jersey someday, just like boatzone3 did with Ireland. I can walk around your streets in brightly coloured anoraks, and ask for directions in your oldest university to “Kelly’s Book” (true story my dad told me - that’ll be, er, the Book of Kells you’re looking for) or order the most predictable drink in the bar. No, but seriously, I need to do that sometime.
'Cos you know all those jokes (and non-jokes) about New Jersey being crap? They're the same jokes Irish people make about Ireland, minus the romanticism engendered by hundreds of years of subsistence agriculture on the periphery of Europe, and the literary encapsulation of a semi-provincial capital city.  

moneyfire:

#1 TOP 10 2010: The Monitor, Titus Andronicus

This list started with a clear number 1 and as much as I relistened to the years’s music nothing came close to dislodging The Monitor. Titus wrote an album that is a sprawling punk expanse that at times is flawed but as a whole is perfect. From a criticism standpoint I guess I need to disclose that this album maps very closely to my life at times. My old man is from Jersey and at times in life when there was work for me in NJ I would live at his place. I do believe that understanding the geography that Stickles is working with helps to open up some of the text of the album much in the same way that knowing Dublin helps to open up Joyce a bit. There is simply something about waiting/taking the Fung Wah bus that can’t really be explained. 

Geography aside, the overarching theme of “The Enemy is Everywhere” rings true throughout the album. Its something I think I understand viscerally. Growing up in a small, semi-isolated (both geo and culture) towns the enemy is everywhere. The people in power be it social or authority surround you and suffocate you. Your friends, half bonded, through being outcasts can be the enemy, if they don’t get out they’re folded into the same social structure that used to unite. You’re the enemy. The doubt (“you will always be a loser”), the complacency, the drugs, the booze all have their own tempting pitfalls that internally divide. Perhaps these elements aren’t cleanly explicated throughout the whole of the album but the album is soaked in the sentiment. 

Musically the album is still pretty much what you would have expected from Titus. Raw, energetic, Stickles’ ripped ragged voice drawn across verses with the occasional sing-along chorus. Not so much an evolution as an expansion the album sees Titus teasing and pulling the strands of their sound, trying to find new space to play with. In some places it works really well and in others they sort of lose their focus but I do believe that on the whole the longer form suits them well. 

Its tough to sum up really. I love this album to death, this is something I will listen to for the rest of my life. It resonates on a really deep personal level for me and for that reason its tough to come to a critical point of view of the whole LP. When the album is over I just want to play it again. 

"I do believe that understanding the geography that Stickles is working with helps to open up some of the text of the album much in the same way that knowing Dublin helps to open up Joyce a bit" - I need to make a musico-literary pilgrimage to New Jersey someday, just like boatzone3 did with Ireland. I can walk around your streets in brightly coloured anoraks, and ask for directions in your oldest university to “Kelly’s Book” (true story my dad told me - that’ll be, er, the Book of Kells you’re looking for) or order the most predictable drink in the bar. No, but seriously, I need to do that sometime.

'Cos you know all those jokes (and non-jokes) about New Jersey being crap? They're the same jokes Irish people make about Ireland, minus the romanticism engendered by hundreds of years of subsistence agriculture on the periphery of Europe, and the literary encapsulation of a semi-provincial capital city.  

Titus Andronicus
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Dec 18
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HFN 2010 - 6: Fight Like Apes, ‘Ice Cream Apple Fuck’ from The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner

This is the FLApes equivalent of 'Battle of Hampton Roads'; drinking, smoking, misanthropy in a slow-burning, if overall much shorter, finale. The title reminds me of Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey and ‘Eiffel Tower High’ (“and I scream, ice scream, I scream”): musically, it’s also power-pop with a punk edge and bitter emotional undertones. Barthel has just written something about another of the songs on the album, saying

"… it sounds vaguely drunk, but in a good-natured way.  They are your favorite drinking buddies, soused and willing to talk shit about anyone but happy to hear about your problems, too."

But, as we now know Nixon said, 

"What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I’ve known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish."

Hence, in this song (assuming I’ve heard the words right, as there’s no lyric sheet)

"Let’s retreat to Prague, drink cider from cans

We can rip on your poor mom, with her poxy mouth

And then maybe you’ll talk …”

(I guess you could find a joke there in going all the way to Prague to drink cider, but no, it’s just cheaper there. Irish people drink a lot, and pay a lot for their drink, in Ireland. And ‘poxy’ is just a general Irish term of abuse, it’s not actually saying she has syphilis.) I can only really leave the meaning of the rest of the song up to your imagination, because I’m not sure either. Answers on a postcard?  

There are no really super-catchy songs on this album, like ‘Lend Me Your Face’ (allegedly overheard in a nightclub, “… I’ll bust it up and replace it”), but what the record does do is give them space to expand their emotional palette - it helps that the production is a good deal more nuanced than on their debut LP, allowing for a much more interesting and absorbing sound. Opener 'Lets Talk About Our Feelings' puts the joke out in front only so they can move on from there (best deep cut: ‘Waking Up With Robocop’), ending in a frenzied repetition of “please accept our sincerest apologies to Mom and Dad”, with the briefest sotto voce aside from May Kay “for someone else”; contrast that with ‘Battle of Hampton Roads’, where Patrick Stickles clearly states “I’m sorry Dad, no, I’m not making this up”. Both revel in showing the world at its worst, with the aim of radical self-acceptance: but while The Monitor is tragedy, The Body of Christ (and the Legs of Tina Turner) is comedy.

190 plays
HFN 2010 fight like apes indie irish Titus Andronicus punk
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