The Airing Of Grievances
If the year 2009 was a person and one of your mates he'd be a right bore. He'd be constantly broke, sighting the credit crunch at every given opportunity - and he'd probably spend most of his time dreaming up ways to shaft you of all your money. Now if The Airing Of Grievances - the debut album from Titus Andronicus - was also one of your mates, he'd have blugeoned 2009 by now, dumped his lifeless corpse into landfill. Not for the reason that he's a diehard optimist - far from it - in fact, he'd be a vicious little fucker, but he just wouldn't stand for any of this namby-pamby fear mongering that goes on and so far The Airing Of Grievances is the only album to kick the broke ass of 2009 firmly and squarely between its limp little cheeks.
Here are some facts, Titus Andronicus are 5 guys from a small town called Glen Rock in New Jersey, a safe suburban enclave to the west of New York City. The Airing Of Grievances is their debut album following a pair of 7" singles and an early EP, it's got 9 tracks, its 45 minutes long and it's fucking brilliant.
If only I could stop there, but in order to justify my massive wage packet I must go on. The Airing Grievances is essentially a punk record but it's way more complicated than that. It's a pit-bull that thinks it's an alsatian, a punk record that thinks it's an Explosions In The Sky record. At times It can sound like Conor Oberst fronting The Wedding Present and at others it could be No Age fronting the E Street Band. It's supremely muscular and feral and yet highly sophisticated. Singer and chief songwriter Patrick Stickles has a voice like a bandsaw cutting through sheet metal, it's almost constantly out of tune and really couldn't give a shit and it stands proud in front of a deafening wall of sound that is the rest of the band. As in all music it's the relationship between this voice and this sound that holds the key to the albums success. Stickles can morph his voice into a blunt instrument of such power and venom as if it's his only way of smashing through this wall of guitar breeze-blocks that constantly towers above him.
From the opening "Fuck You" howl of Fear And Loathing In Mahwah, NJ this record pummels relentlessly, it's massive musical structure rising slowly like a great city being raised from the oceans depths. Each song adds something different to the mix with this huge sound receding to allow room for punctuating guitar work on Fear And Loathing or the driving rhythm of My Time Outside The Womb. Joset Of Nazereth's Blues balances this might with Springsteen style harmonica while the title track foams at the mouth as Stickles spits the mantra "You're life Is over" repeatedly and eventually being joined by the rest of the band for a climactic finale. But it's the two tracks that follow that this record has been building up to. No Future, Pt 1 and No Future, Pt 2 The Days After No Future transform this record from a fiercely original punk pop album to something stella. They play out as one track and together stretch out over more than 14 minutes. It's one of the only times in the record that the tempo slows down and allows a brief breather. But as Pt 1 builds from this breather like a far off wave it drops into Pt. 2 and all hell breaks loose. Massive instrumental juggernaughts speed off at great speed and really open up the album into something magnificently ambitious.
The track lengths grow as the album progresses and so does the confidence. Stickles' vocals stand shoulder to shoulder with the awesome sound that props it up. He howls, screeches and moans over these huge riffs but always sounds raw and unhinged. The whole record sounds like a basement punk tape while effortlessly stretching out over enormous ground. It's this odd juxtaposition that defines their success. As Stickles shrieks on the title track "No more cigarettes, no more having sex, no more drinking till you fall on the floor, no more indie-rock, just a ticking clock," The Airing Of Grievances is a calamitous voice of doom and with a pounding fist draws a line under much of the music I've heard in a long time.
25th Feb 2009 - Tumblr4.5
100 Club, London
Another touching Pixar tale from Pete Docter. Stylish and inspiring.
29th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Perfect Christmas movie that sails close to the wind of parody without getting swept away.
26th Dec 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stirring, straight shooting, well rounded finale to a classic trilogy.
13th Dec 2020Read more 4.5 star reviews
Note perfect, brisk, entertainingly convoluted classic.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Genre defining 80s classic that still hits all the right notes.
13th Dec 2020Read more 5 star reviews
Unsurprisingly slight, but the one thread of plot is held together by an enjoyable Bill Murray.
21st Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Incredibly straightforward Clint drama, anchored by some great central performances.
10th Nov 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Not exactly imaginative re-imagining, but it gets the job done in the right spirit.
1st Nov 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Ambitious, stagey epic. Plenty of tropes and it falls in all the usual 1-take potholes.
27th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtful, stylish drama with a zen central performance.
17th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Stiff, poorly paced innovative film that hasn’t aged well.
11th Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Inspiring, tightly scripted gem - overlooked by lockdown.
4th Oct 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Standard-issue airplane movie, with Joel Kinnaman standing in for Vin Diesel.
3rd Oct 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Sub LA Confidential gumshoe thriller - with an underplayed USP. Ed Norton misses again.
27th Sep 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Over explained threequel, that undermines a low key original.
18th Sep 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Intriguing, but generally incomprehensible sci-fi gobbledegook.
31st Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
The Next Level
Marginally less fun sequel, but still plenty of laughs.
16th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Beautifully imagined and lovingly restored, but it still alternates between a snail's pace and feeling like a trailer edit.
12th Aug 2020Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable plane movie, though it owes a lot to the magnificent Copland.
8th Aug 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Tension-free Bateman rom com. Lacking rom and com.
8th Aug 2020Read more 2 star reviews
Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.
19th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.
5th Jul 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.
21st Jun 2020Read more 1 star reviews
Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.
14th Jun 2020Read more 4 star reviews
The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.
24th May 2020Read more 2.5 star reviews
Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.
13th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.
4th Apr 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.
23rd Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.
15th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.
10th Mar 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.
7th Mar 2020Read more 1.5 star reviews
Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.
9th Feb 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.
8th Feb 2020Read more 3.5 star reviews
Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.
25th Jan 2020Read more 3 star reviews
Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.
31st Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.
30th Dec 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Rise of Skywalker
Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.
27th Dec 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.
22nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.
15th Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.
2nd Dec 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.
28th Nov 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.
24th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.
16th Nov 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.
3rd Nov 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.
13th Oct 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews