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TITUS ANDRONICUS

Titus Andronicus

The Will To Live

    The Will to Live was produced by Titus Andronicus singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles and Canadian icon Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen, The Whole Nine Yards) at the latter’s Hotel 2 Tango recording studio in Montreal. Drawing on maximalist rock epics from Who’s Next to Hysteria, Bilerman and Stickles have crafted the richest, densest, and hardest hitting sound for Titus Andronicus yet. All at once, the record matches the sprawl and scope of the band’s most celebrated work, while also honing their ambitious attack to greater effect than ever before.

    “It may strike some as ironic we had to go to Canada to record our equivalent to Born in the USA,” quips Stickles, “but the pursuit of Ultimate Rock knows no borders.”For his recent stretch of personal stability, he credits a newfound domestic bliss and steadfast mental health regimen (“Lamictal is a hell of a drug”) as well as the endurance of what has become the longest-running consistent lineup of Titus Andronicus—Liam Betson on guitar, R.J. Gordon on bass, and Chris Wilson on drums. On the crueler side of the coin, however, The Will to Live was created in large part as an attempt to process the untimely 2021 death of Matt “Money” Miller, the founding keyboardist of the band and Stickles’ closest cousin. Stickles explains: “The passing of my dearest friend forced me to recognize not only the precious and fragile nature of life, but also the interconnectivity of all life. Loved ones we have lost are really not lost at all, as they, and we still living, are all component pieces of a far larger continuous organism, which both precedes and succeeds our illusory individual selves, united through time by (you guessed it) the will to live.”

    “Naturally, though, our long-suffering narrator can only arrive at this conclusion through a painful and arduous odyssey through Hell itself,” he qualifies. “This is a Titus Andronicus record, after all.”

    When Titus Andronicus made their long-awaited return to the stage in 2021, it was to celebrate the anniversary of their landmark breakthrough The Monitor, and the act of playing that material before an ecstatic audience left the band determined to deliver an album that would reach for those same lofty heights, relying this time less on the reckless fire of youth and more on the experience and perspective at which a band only arrives with a thousand shows under their belt. Through this golden ratio, Titus Andronicus have arrived at the peak of their creative powers. From its adrenalizing opening instrumental “My Mother Is Going to Kill Me” to its wistful

    closing benediction “69 Stones,” The Will to Live conjures a vast landscape and sends the listener on a rocket ride from peak to vertiginous peak. Rock fans will find themselves a feast, whether they crave barn-burning rock anthems such as “(I’m) Screwed” and “All Through the Night,” rapid-fire lyrical gymnastics (“Baby Crazy”), symphonic punk throwdowns (“Dead Meat”), or an adventurous excursion into the darkness that delivers thrills as it breezes boldly past the seven-minute mark, “An Anomaly.”

    As if that wasn’t enough gas for the tank, The Will to Live features sterling contributions from members of the Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, and the E Street Band, as well as duets with the aforementioned Betson, former Titus Andronicus drummer Eric Harm, and Josée Caron of the Canadian rock band Partner. The album comes packaged with gorgeous triple-gatefold artwork by illustrious illustrator Nicole Rifkin, a Hieronymus Bosch–inspired triptych which mirrors the three-part structure of the narrator’s perilous voyage across the corresponding three sides of vinyl. All together, this esteemed ensemble, with Stickles and Bilerman determined and defiant at the helm, have found The Will to Live—now, the question is… will you?

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A
    1. My Mother Is Going To Kill Me
    2. (I’m) Screwed
    3. I Can Not Be Satisfied
    4. Bridge And Tunnel
    SIDE B
    5. Grey Goo
    6. Dead Meat
    7. An Anomaly
    SIDE C
    8. Give Me Grief
    9. Baby Crazy
    10. All Through The Night
    11. We’re Coming Back
    12. 69 Stones
    SIDE D
    Etching

    Titus Andronicus

    An Obelisk

      Obelisk is the sixth album from Titus Andronicus, which finds the band under stewardship of producer and legendary rocker Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar). This trans-generational meeting of the minds has yielded the most immediate and unadorned Titus Andronicus record to date. Clocking in at 38 minutes, it is also the shortest. Recorded over six days at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, An Obelisk presents the sound of Titus Andronicus, rock band, at its most irreducible, as monolithic as the album’s titular monument.

      Titus Andronicus is led by singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles, now flanked by longtime guitarist Liam Betson and the indomitable rhythm section of R.J. Gordon on bass and Chris Wilson on drums. An Obelisk is the first record to showcase this lineup from tip to tail, each track bearing distinctive fingerprints of each musician, their particular chemistry honed through extensive touring and rigorous rehearsals. Excepting the background vocals of Ralph Darden (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), no outside musicians were utilized, leaving ample room for the pummeling drums and slashing guitars to thrive under the notoriously economical hand of Mould. “Bob Mould is quite the role model to a guy like me,” Stickles confesses. “He has conducted his 40-year career with a remarkable level of integrity and loyalty to his own internal compass. He has often zigged when he was expected to zag, but the consistent excellence of his output has earned him the unconditional trust of his audience. What more could you want than that? What better way, for a guy like me, to learn to actualize such a vision than to get into the man’s workplace and do as he tells me to do?”

      Tempting as it may be to label An Obelisk a “back to basics” effort, this is not a return to the band’s roots—this is an excavation of the dirt beneath those roots. An Obelisk also functions as a companion to A Productive Cough. Together, these records present a panoramic view of Titus Andronicus’ musical interests. An Obelisk has all the trappings of a classic punk album, though, to hear Stickles tell it, it is moreso an album about punk. “In a universe devoid of higher meaning, it is our responsibility to impose our own meaning upon it and to afford others the space to do the same. The true ‘punk’ must be constantly assessing and reassessing their own values and belief systems, lest they fall into the trap of merely pulling their identity off of the rack, in the manner of the snobs and meatheads they claim to oppose.” “The way in which an obelisk narrows as it reaches skyward reminds me of the way in which our system seems to consolidate power onto a smaller and smaller base over time,” Stickles concludes. “Whenever, wherever the sun shines, an obelisk casts a long shadow—An Obelisk is the story of one individual’s attempt to find a place for himself in that darkness.” 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Mixing the rawkous, booze-addled punk drawl of the Pogues with more modern distortion and dynamic activity was never going to be an easy task, but with legendary musician and producer Bob Mould at the helm, it was never going to be anything but exceptional. Heavy but reassuringly sludgy, 'An Obelisk' is a superb mix of all the influences that make modern punk so great. Top stuff.

      TRACK LISTING

      Just Like Ringing A Bell
      Troubleman Unlimited
      (I Blame) Society
      My Body And Me
      Hey Ma
      Beneath The Boot
      On The Street
      Within The Gravitron
      The Lion Inside
      Tumult Around The World

      Titus Andronicus

      A Productive Cough

        Since debuting in 2008, Titus Andronicus [hereafter +@] has been conditioning faithful listeners to expect only the unexpected. With A Productive Cough, +@ has executed the most shocking departure yet—but only if, as ever mercurial singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles insists, “you haven’t been paying attention.” In a move that may infuriate the black-denim-and-PBR set, A Productive Cough sets aside leadfooted punk anthems in favor of a subtler, more spacious approach that pushes Stickles’ soul-baring songwriting to the fore, creating an intimacy between artist and audience with which previous +@ efforts had only flirted. “[+@] records have always had their fair share of ballads,” Stickles explains, “but they were always buried amidst a lot of screaming. Now, they are the cornerstones. Punk rock is nice, but it is but one tool in the toolbox from which I pull to achieve my artistic purpose, and that purpose has always been communication and validation. This time, perhaps I can more effectively talk to the people if I am not so busy yelling at them.” The mission of A Productive Cough is apparent from the first bars of opening track “Number One (In New York).” As a tableau of piano and dulcet horns unfolds, Stickles unleashes a breathless and unceasing 64-bar verse with subject matter as sprawling as the kitchen-sink arrangement, which grows to include sparkling guitars, twinkling bells, and uplifting choral vocals as Stickles searches desperately for the strength to carry on through an increasingly violent and frightening world. 

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A - Number One (In New York), Real Talk, Above The Bodega (Local Business).

        Side B - Crass Tattoo, Home Alone, Mass Transit Madness (Goin’ Loco’).

        CD & 7” Includes The Additional Track (I’m) Like A Rolling Stone. 


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