Titus Andronicus, Those Crosstown Rivals
899 Manchester St
Lexington, KY, 40507
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Women & Work is a love letter from Lucero to its hometown, Memphis, Tennessee. “Having a band in Memphis puts you in a tradition,” says Lucero frontman Ben Nichols. “We started at punk rock shows, not necessarily playing punk rock, but coming from the outside, from a bohemian place.”
The bohemian tradition is just as strong in Memphis as the city’s series of international hits. The popularity of Sun, Stax, Elvis, and Al Green doesn’t diminish the influence of the blues, Jim Dickinson, and Alex Chilton. The bridge between the shadows and the spotlight has become the heart of Lucero: Unafraid to mix pop with their anti-pop, they always charge into new territory.
As punks, Lucero were masters of restraint, with country music beer stains dribbled down the front of their shirts. As whiskey-soaked bohemians, they didn’t shy from sweeping Americana tableaus. And then they added an accordion. “When we started, we were building on a foundation we weren’t aware of,” says guitarist Brian Venable. “Listening back to our early stuff, we hear ourselves reference the old Sun Records. We didn’t hear it or feel it then, but we hear it and feel it now.”
Women & Work, their 8th album, is such an exciting presentation of the band’s eclectic explorations that it makes their 14-year meandering path appear to be a straight line to this very record. “We’re more comfortable in our own skin as a band, more comfortable acknowledging regional influences,” says bassist John Stubblefield. “We wound up making a Memphis country soul record.”
Integrating horns, pedal steel guitar, all manner of keyboards, and even a full-on gospel chorus, Women & Work is a fully realized musical extravaganza. Drawing inspiration from Delaney & Bonnie’s obscure first album, Home, on the Stax label, Lucero’s ambivalence about tradition has been replaced by an exuberant embrace. Women & Work is like Arcade Fire baptized in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs, then warmed with Don Nix’s Alabama State Troopers.
“On My Way Downtown,” the album’s lead song, tells the story: a reserved guitar riff sets the mood, a couple instruments quietly fall in and Ben adds the first contemplative vocals. The song seems headed firmly into the punk-rock-made-pretty territory of their roots—until the organ sustains a chord, the tempo ratchets up, and Lucero becomes a band that doesn’t ask but rather insists that you move your feet. Go ahead hipster—dance!
“Go Easy” is something new for the band: gospel music. A sing-along with a large female chorus, it’s more likely to close the bar than open the church, but when returning producer Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem) pushed the band toward a sacred sound, they realized it could cinch the album’s country soul feel.
“You work all week, thinking about women and the weekend,” says Nichols. “’Downtown’ is Friday night, ‘Go Easy’ is Sunday morning. The rest of the record is the party in between.”
Nichols recently moved from stage to screen, playing a lead role in the acclaimed MTV series $5 Cover, directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose). The character was a rambling musician, and Nichols brought authority to the performance. In 2009, he released a solo album, The Last Pale Light In the West, a collection of acoustic songs based loosely on Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Behold the amazing, yet true, story of the third/most recent Titus Andronicus LP, LOCAL BUSINESS.
It begins with a plan of action. While the first two LPs were elaborate concoctions, requiring the contributions of 30+ musicians, the most advanced computer wizardry and transmissions from an alternate universe, LOCAL BUSINESS would be of the earth, the handiwork of a living and breathing entity. No more would Titus Andronicus the studious recording project and Titus Andronicus the raucous touring machine be two distinct beings; there would only be Titus Andronicus, rock and roll band.
At the center of the band remained, as ever, singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles. Flanking him was the dynamic duo of Eric Harm on drums and Julian Veronesi on bass, rhythm section and principal backup singers. Returning to the fold was recent college graduate Liam Betson on guitar, whose studies kept him off the road but not away from the recording of the first two LPs. Rounding out the band was the latest addition, guitarist extraordinaire, and founder of Brooklyn DIY haven Shea Stadium, Adam Reich, moving gracefully from the position of live sound engineer to band member following the abrupt departure of keyboardist David Robbins.
With an album's worth of new songs in their pocket, Titus Andronicus took to the road in March of 2012, hashing out their new material night after night on tour, throughout the eastern United States and at the SXSW music conference. It would be the energy of the stage that they would strive to recreate in the studio.
The studio in question was New Paltz, NY's Marcata Recording, domain of master producer and engineer Kevin McMahon, whose credits include the first two Titus Andronicus LPs. Beginning on April 1st, the rare confluence of Palm Sunday and April Fool's Day, the converted barn became the band's home for the next two months. The first phase of recording found the band amassing hundreds of performances, playing together without headphones, three guitars strong, day in and day out, striving in pursuit of "the perfect take." A lengthy selection process followed, where the takes deemed most worthy of preserving for the ages were chosen. On top of these were placed much singing, still more guitars, and the contributions of an elite group of special guests – longtime Titus session keyboardist Elio DeLuca, famed violinist and string arranger to the stars Owen Pallett, and Eric's father, Steven Harm, blowing on a harmonica. This tight-knit group is just one of the meanings behind the phrase LOCAL BUSINESS. By the end of June, Kevin McMahon completed the mixing, and the mastering of the world famous Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound capped off the whole process.
But what of the songs themselves? While abandoning the linear narrative of The Monitor, the songs of LOCAL BUSINESS aim to make explicit the implications of the first two LPs, that the inherent meaninglessness of life in an absurd universe gives the individual power to create their own values and their own morality. This individual is celebrated throughout LOCAL BUSINESS's ten songs, though surrounded by a world that pressures endlessly to consume and to conform. The title LOCAL BUSINESS speaks to this anti-consumerist agenda, but fear not; the contradiction of the LP as a consumer product speaking against consumerism will be discussed at length therein. LOCAL BUSINESS should also indicate an interest in contemporary affairs, moving away from the historical content of The Monitor. Along the way, we witness a devastating automobile wreck, a food fight (that is to say, a battle with an eating disorder), an electrocution, a descent into insanity, and ultimately, a forgiveness of the self for its many faults. Titus Andronicus even finds time to broaden its emotional palette to include moments of pure positivity, brief respites from the usual doom and gloom.
LOCAL BUSINESS was released on October 22nd, 2012, and people liked it.
"It reflects the band's genuine appreciation for both punk and classic rock, a heritage equal parts the Boss and the Ramones."
"This collection is the band's tightest and most cohesive, and they do so without losing any of the grit. Titus Andronicus has emerged over the past seven years as a formidable punk rock unit—both live and on tape. And whether Stickles likes it or not, he's become somewhat of a modern-day working-class hero. With Local Business, he again does us proud." -PASTE (9/10)
"They play hyper-intelligent and visceral rock 'n' roll from the Garden State that knocks down and reassembles the heritage of New Jersey's past with rambunctious, cerebral aplomb."
Those Crosstown Rivals
Those Crosstown Rivals are a feel good rock and roll band, striving to make music for the sake of the song. Their sounds are southern influenced rock and roll with country and punk rock roots packed full of drive and conviction. Its music that makes you wanna dance, sing along, throw your beer in the air, and have a good time.