S+@dium Rock: Five Nights At The Opera by Titus Andronicus on Merge Records

Review by Harry Kaplan

I am late to the Titus Andronicus (+@) party. My friend Doug Lay has been singing their praises for quite a while now. I guess I never gave them a chance, because this album is the bomb. Now I feel a little regretful that I missed out a bit. Oh well, better late to the party than never to get an invite. S+@dium Rock: Five Nights At The Opera is a live album recorded a year ago during +@’s five night sold out run at Brooklyn’s DIY venue called Shea Stadium. This release is not for the faint of heart. It is loud, a little sloppy, and a little profane. And it is infectious as hell. Take the Clash, Exile era Stones, AC/DC, and Bruce Springsteen and blend them up in a blender real nice and you may scratch the Titus Andronicus surface.

The songs range in length from 55 seconds to over 8 minutes. Not exactly standard issue punk rock, where most songs clock in at under 3 minutes. But to call this punk rock isn’t even close to an accurate description. Dimed Out, the opening track, is pretty close to as punk as it gets. If I told you that this song was from 1977, I think you would believe me. I even hear a hint of a British accent even though the band is from Glen Rock, New Jersey. By the way, Dimed Out is anthem worthy punk rock. But the fun doesn’t stop there. +@’s next number on the album is Lonely Boy, a song that is executed beautifully and sounds like the Stones circa 72-73. The song is over 8 minutes long but it is a very fast 8 minutes, broken up in the middle by a guitar solo that is taken from the playbook of Angus Young. Then it gets fast and full of piss and vinegar. They can move fluently from rock to punk and back again.

I lost My Mind (Track3) has some very strong Springsteen leanings. Not too surprising since these boys are from Jersey as well. It would be hard not be influenced by The Boss. The only thing missing is a long saxophone solo. Other than that, I could hear The Boss singing this number himself. 69 Stones (Track 9) is a very catchy ditty with a real country feel to it and chock full of slide guitars. This song fades flawlessly into the next track, Stable Boy, which has the makings of a classic. This song is absolutely gorgeous with wailing vocals that are sometimes a little scratchy. If you are looking for perfection, probably the wrong place to look. If you are looking for music that gives you that feeling of awe, then you have come to the right place.

As I stated, I am far from an expert on +@, but I will come up to speed. Listening to S+@dium Rock: Five Nights At The Opera makes me want to learn more. There are four other +@ albums that I need to start listening to. I suggest you do the same. These guys are legit.

Here is a link to the live concert with the same songs that are on the album. The audio and video are high quality. If you want to buy the release, and I strongly suggest you do it, looky here. Now I must go. I have some homework to do.


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