Named after the Union Navy ironclad and launched with an pre-presidential quotation from Abraham Lincoln, New Jersey band Titus Andronicus' second album, The Monitor, offers something of an unintentional answer to a recent cultural moment that had Southern governors invoking "Confederate heritage" and downplaying the role of slavery in the Civil War. In many ways, the old South has been the poetic victor of that war over the years, but here's the rare Yankee-centric evocation of the Civil War era, one in which the model of heroism isn't Robert E. Lee but Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, and John Brown. A surly, articulate young bunch, led by singer Patrick Stickles, Titus Andronicus filters Springsteen-inspired verbosity and anthemic energy through punk aggression. While they don't make their recurring Civil War theme on this album topical, they use it to tap into a union of elegant language and righteous anger, and they evoke the enormity of that historical moment as something of a rebuke to their own generational torpor (an antipathy from which Stickles does not exclude himself.) Like Garrison, they do not wish to think, speak, or write with moderation. And they will be heard. Loudly. Titus Andronicus plays the Hi-Tone Café tonight. Showtime is 10 p.m. Admission is $10.
Here's the official video for their song "A More Perfect Union":