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Oct 31

ditchell vs. the absurd discussion of the new Titus Andronicus album Part the Second

"Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter"

This is the first hint of Local Business being something new. This song is damn near approachable. Building, lilting. Friendly. This is also the first Thin Lizzy I heard on the album. It wouldn’t be the last. Halfway through this song… it starts to sound like anybody’s song. If it wasn’t for Patrick’s distinct lyrics, this would feel like a Hold Steady song. That’s not an insult. 

"Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape with the Flood of Detritus"

This. This is a Titus Andronicus song through and through. Staccato rhythm, screaming, a repeated chorus. This is what I showed up for. I dearly love this song. Echoes of the third song on The Monitor for sure. There’s still that Thin Lizzy sound. That whine. It’s good. Just different. Coming from The Monitor you can really hear the increased production quality (intentional or not). 

"Food Fight!"

This is a short song. It’s kind of dumb. The only lyrics are “Food Fight!” There are pianos. I don’t care for it.

"My Eating Disorder"

I thought I’d hate this song. I talked last night about how Patrick has been open about his eating disorder. So let’s write a song about it! But it’s grown on me. Some very strong and clearly personal lyrics. And then… and then they go full Thin Lizzy. And then they go back to Titus Andronicus, screaming “Spit it out!” over and over. Unlike the banal songs on this album, this is some good stuff. It continues what I would call friendliness. It’s listenable to people who aren’t weirdos like me. I guess that’s a good thing. This is not as strong as “Oregon” and “In A Big City”. 

"Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)"

More Food Fight-esque quick nonsense. Very punky. Pop punk. I hate to write those those words. They physically hurt. There’s not a lot to say. I guess this and Food Fight separate My Eating Disorder from the rest of the album. Wish there was more to them. 

"In a Big City" 

Holy shit. If you only listen to one song on this thing, make this the one. Desperately love it. This is what I like about this band distilled into a song. This is their uniqueness, great lyrics, everything. I can’t say this loud enough. Watch the video too. Great fucking stuff. 

Black hole open up wide 
Yr lost son is coming inside 
Spaceship? Or a lifeboat? 
Put me out coach, I’m ready to float 

"In a Small Body"

I don’t really know what to make of this. It’s…gentle. This is pretty good stuff though. There’s just a softness to it that you wouldn’t expect. But by this point on the album, I guess it makes some sense to be a little mellow. 

"(I am the) Electric Man"

Damn it, guys. I’m trying here. This is not a bad song  I read it’s about a time Patrick got electrocuted. Man. This song does very little for me, to be honest. It sounds so… Stones. Like heart-on-its-sleeve we want to write a Stones song. Here you go. A Stones song. 

"Tried to Quit Smoking"

A slow dirge to end things. Last time it was Hampton Roads, which we’ve already established I dearly love. It was epic and rolling and changing. This is a downbeat, one tempo song. And it’s fantastic.

"It’s not that I don’t want to hurt you, It’s just that I don’t care"

There’s still that sense of.. simplicity here. This isn’t fancy at all. But it’s good. It doesn’t feel like a reach like the previous song. If after writing this I am not barred from seeing them live I look forward to hearing it live. 

Local Business

As a whole, I can’t sit here and say that this is their best album. Hell, it may be my third favorite of the three, and I haven’t even mentioned the first album until now. But if they are going to be something other than that band that I try to convince everyone I know is the best, then now is the time. This is the one to listen to. And they are clearly riding on a wave of sorts. Popping up on Grantland, Spin, etc. This is their chance to escape their orbit and ascend. Maybe I’ll hear a snippet of their song during a football game or something. I can totally see that. I hope they get that, get some scratch. Because this is a good album, made by competent people. It’s not the odd obsessive feeling thing that The Monitor was. It’s not the clangy noise of The Airing of Grievances. It’s a grown up album. That is at times shockingly normal. There are worse things to be, but I say quietly that there are also better. 

Oct 30

Spit it out: An exhaustive review of the new record by Titus Andronicus Part 1

Some words before I begin this ridiculousness. There’s a guy who writes a incredibly exhaustive review of the new Mac operating systems when they come out. I’m talking 40 pages. He gets down and dirty with it, spending paragraphs talking about tiny parts like the new bevel on nonactive windows. Consider this the same sort of thing. This is me wanting to do some writing. It may not be great writing, but just the physical act of typing what’s in my brain is the main goal here. I want to emphasize to those worried about me after reading this that I have millions of other things going on than thinking about this band. I’m just allowing myself to think critically about something I love. I’m trying to determine why the hell I like it so much, and flexing that writing muscle. I decided, on a whim, to write a whole damn novel next month, so I figured I better ramp up til then. 


Let’s be real honest upfront here- out of nowhere in 2010 came an album by Titus Andronicus called The Monitor. At least out of nowhere to me. I discovered it by doing my usual scraping of year-end best lists and seeing if anything struck my fancy. 

One might say that The Monitor did that. I listened to it for approximately 5 months straight. Some might call it a compulsion, or an obsession. I recognized this behavior in me because it has happened before. It seems every few years an album just… hits me and I am powerless to stop listening to it, and everything else seems uninteresting. 

The Monitor is the name of a Union ironclad that fought in the first naval battle of ironclads at The Battle of Hampton Roads, which also is the title of the final song on the album (and being quite honest here, one of my favorite songs of any band).  The album is interspersed with quotes from the Civil War, read by people like Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. The album contains veiled references to the civil war while talking about feelings of hopelessness in New Jersey in modern times. And I’m being extremely reductive here because I didn’t sit down to write about The Monitor. But let’s be real clear- I can do that if you need me to. 

As my obsession was waning, I got the opportunity to see Titus Andronicus live in Atlanta in April 2011. It was amazing being around people who knew all the words like I did and screamed along with the band at the appropriate moments. I left that show convinced that I was glimpsing something I’d cherish- a band at the top of their game in a small club. 

Months later, a couple of things occurred that peeled back the mystery of the band, in both good and bad ways. The worst was when I was sick and rewatched Ken Burns’ Civil War. Every single quote from The Monitor is in the first episode. Every. Single One. It made me a little sad- someone had done all the work for them finding the choice quotes- and there are some good ones. But it no longer felt like some guy was pouring over Civil War history finding appropriate quotes to set the mood. More like some guy, a guy named Patrick Stickles I would later learn, watching an episode on Netflix, pausing it to write down the quotes. It’s not a deal-breaker. I just wish more was there, you know?

Secondly, Patrick joined twitter. I learned a lot about him by his furious tweets for hours, then silence for days. During what appeared to be his lowest times, he’d respond to everything and everyone with fury and passion. One time he responded to me in 20 seconds. It was disconcerting. But good. It made me realize that I think I like the music more than the people making it. This is not new, I personally know plenty of rather shitty people who make beautiful music. He’s not one of them, but I did realize the best interaction he and I would ever have was me listening to his music, and elevating it to something greater than the sum of his parts. I’m OK with that. 

One thing that I learned from twitter was his eating disorder. You can read about it here. I wouldn’t normally bring this up, but it’s going to color my perceptions of the new album. 

That brings us to Local Business, the new album by Titus Andronicus. 

Ecce Homo

Those are the words used by Pontius Pilate as he displayed Jesus Christ to the masses. I knew that before looking it up on wikipedia, by the way. This is Patrick coming clean, admitting, perhaps, that he’s not quite as hopeless as the end of The Monitor. Let’s compare some lines, the first from Battle of Hampton Roads:

is there a human alive that can look himself in the face without winking?

or say what they mean without drinking?

(I’m pulling these from a lyric site due to laziness, but I think you can get the gist). This is the height of despair  We’re all deluding ourselves and never really honest with each other. Even at the time I heard this,  I’ve kind of moved past this worldview. But I remember when I felt this way. I remember it well. By contrast, Ecce Homo starts with:

Okay, I think by now we’ve established
Everything is inherently worthless
And there’s nothing in the Universe.
With any kind of objective purpose
And you can scream for a hundred years.
Split the sky with a thousand curses
To tell the evil that men do, 
Honey, you wouldn’t even scratch the surface.

Combined with the meaning behind the name of the song, I get the message: let’s stop fucking moping so much and try to survive instead of bemoaning our current state. Is he perhaps comparing himself to Christ? Well, yeah. But there’s a humility to it. Almost an admission that he doesn’t know everything. Another couple of lines for you:

I heard them say the white man created existential angst
When he ran out of other problems
Cause the thing about those problems was
Typically, more money would solve them
We’re breaking out of our bodies now.

Hey guess what? I’m going to like this album. Or most of it. And as a selfish exercise I’m going to detail that. Tomorrow we’ll explore a little further. Maybe even finish. Thanks for reading and judging me silently, with your eyes. I see you over there. 


Sep 03
Hell yes. via reddit. 

Hell yes. via reddit. 

Mar 09

"that’s where they got Biggie"

Ten years ago I’m driving around LA for the first time with my friend Chad. He’s showing me the sights. We pull up to a street corner. Chad points to the the sidewalk outside the passenger window and says in the most serious, somber tone,

"that’s where they got Biggie".

And then the light changes and we drive on.

I don’t know if that’s where it actually happened, but I look back on that as one of the most hilarious moments I can remember because of the indignant look on Chad’s face. As if he know who “they” were and that needed to be impressed upon me.

Anyhow. RIP Biggie. I know where it went down.

Feb 01
new microphone. its fancy!

new microphone. its fancy!

Dec 22

Henry dunkel at workplay.

Dec 13
georgia aquarium was pretty awesome.

georgia aquarium was pretty awesome.

Dec 04

Alabama fight song remix. Yuck.

Nov 27
Roomba vs cat. Best black Friday ever!

Roomba vs cat. Best black Friday ever!

Nov 06
Sat dish

Sat dish