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Rhythm & Views

Titus Andronicus

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This is either the best band named for a Shakespeare play, or the best album name borrowed from a Seinfeld episode (the one about Festivus). Either way, fans of manic, raucous jangle-pop should take heed of the debut by this bunch of young backstreet bards from New Jersey.

Released last fall by Troubleman Unlimited, this CD is now getting wider distribution through a deal with XL Recordings, which means that many more people can enjoy the group's careening, caterwauling Arctic Monkeys-meets-Bruce Springsteen sound. There's definitely a ballet being fought in the alley when these guys bring the noise.

Like a hyperactive middle-schooler, Titus Andronicus can't keep still. There's a bit of Celtic drone mixed with punk in the breathtaking leadoff track, "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ," some unabashed Springsteen-style harmonica in "Joset of Nazareth's Blues" and some big-beat apocalyptic dance rock on "Arms Against Atrophy."

Through it all, singer Patrick Stickles howls distorted vocals like The Clash's Mick Jones and Joe Strummer at the same time, while the guitars build to exhausting, cathartic crescendos. Massive-sounding organ fills help invoke the spirit of Arcade Fire on too much caffeine.

And you can't argue with a band that finds rock 'n' roll abandon in tunes such as "Upon Viewing Brueghel's 'Landscape With the Fall of Icarus'" or "Albert Camus," which is a re-reading of Camus' The Stranger. It's a ramshackle affair, filled with the enthusiastic missteps of youth, but The Airing of Grievances finds fun in teenage-style angst.

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