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3.9 out of 5 stars14
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on October 23, 2012
It's easy to like the idea of Titus Andronicus. What can you expect from a band named after a William Shakespeare dramatic play? Well, here's the recipe:

3 parts loud guitars
1 part existential angst
1 part patriotism
2 parts cerebral lyrics
1 part love for history
1 part silliness
3 parts do-it-yourself punk rock

Titus Andronicus is as educated as they are rocking -- where contemporary punks would sing about anarchy and nihilism, this band chugs out 14+ minute epics about the Civil War (as seen on their last album). The band doesn't try to follow up its previous album (THE MONITOR) by one-upping it though -- instead, LOCAL BUSINESS is a more rootsier, grittier affair. Many of these songs sound like they have been roadtested or written with the thought of live performance first and foremost. The album balances Patrick Stickle's fantastic lyrics with an energetic and almost out-of-control brand of punk rock. Many of the songs here turn on their head midway through ("In a Small Body", "My Eating Disorder"), but the band does best when it finds a groove and sticks with it. "(I am the) Electric Man" is a fun song, but it showcases what Titus Andronicus is without its sharp lyrics -- not much other than a few vague and playful feelings. The final track, "Tried to Quit Smoking" lands just shy of 10 minutes, and it doesn't really quite pick up until its final 3 minutes.

Here the thing: some of the impact from this album relies on the listener knowing what's going on with the band: "My Eating Disorder" feels playful, but it comes from a bizarre true account that renders the song pretty painful; "(I am the) Electric Man" was written in the emergency room after Patrick Stickles was electrocuted in an accident. These two songs (for example) come across as a little silly, but their context grants them an emotional heft that would probably be lost on most listeners.

In comparison to previous albums, LOCAL BUSINESS fell a bit short for me. I liked the album a lot, but the intensity of THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES or the epic themes of THE MONITOR cast a long shadow. Should Titus Andronicus fans buy this album? Absolutely. Should newcomers? I'd probably start with one of their earlier albums. Because most of this album's energy is loaded in the first half, the album feels a bit uneven an inconsistent at times. Even so, it's a great listen, and with lyrics that double as philosophical and social commentary, there's a lot of album to explore. Standout tracks to sample/download: "Ecce Homo," "Still Life With Hot Deuce on Silver Platter," and "My Eating Disorder."
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on December 1, 2012
What can you possibly do to follow up on a masterpiece? This question must have invariably hovered over the group Titus Andronicus when they were faced with crafting another album following their epic, The Monitor. The Monitor fits the definition of a masterpiece so snugly that I wouldn't be surprised if lead singer Patrick Sickles and his gang had struggled with the above question for quite some time before deciding to go into the studio and write a straight up rock album.

Local Business, Andronicus's third album, sees the band trying to rein things back somewhat. Gone are the readings of Albert Camus or the overarching historical thematics. Instead, the band has replaced its prog-rock ambitions with a renewed focus on autobiography. Sickles's lyrics revolve almost exclusively around the life of a twenty-something as well as strictly personal issues like his struggles with a rare eating disorder. The result is decidedly scaled down. There's nothing inherently wrong with attempting to strip things down, but at times the old tricks Androncus could rely on for their older albums don't work quite as well in this setting. Their use of a continual refrain, which used to sound energetic, can now sound somewhat tired. Smaller interludes, which in earlier albums had served as a connective tissue for their grand themes, now sound like they're stalling for time.

The subject that Sickle returns to again and again is his own body. The body becomes a means for escape and something that he is trapped within. Sex and alcohol and their bodily impact serve as a means to flee existential questions, a means to escape from the oppressive life of the mind. And yet, at the same time, there is a sense that the body itself is also a trap. The first song off the album, "Ecce Homo," is a reference to a genre in classical art that depicts the torture of Jesus and translates into "Behold the Man." In it Sickles sings, "We're breaking out of our bodies now / Time to see what's outside them." But his attempts to escape his body appears to be refuted later in the song "My Eating Disorder," where Sickles recounts his struggles with selective eating disorder. No matter what, he doesn't seem capable of thinking his way outside of the choices his body has made for him.

There's no doubt that Titus Andronicus are a bright group of musicians who will leave behind them a great oeuvre. And even if Local Business isn't as impressive as their last two outings, there are some fantastic tracks here. "In a Big City" is the kind of Pogues meets Springsteen that we have come to expect from this band. And "I Am the Electric Man" is a surprisingly effective left turn into the realm of what can only be described as Motown R&B with a ragged edge. Overall, Local Business isn't a bad stop gap between now and Titus Andronicus's next magnum opus.
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on November 4, 2012
Local Business, the third LP from Titus Andronicus, is quite a bit different from its predecessors. Whereas The Airing of Grievances and The Monitor were intense works that sounded as big as possible, Local Business is restrained. This should come as no surprise as it seemed the band was stuck at a point where it existed as two separate entities: Titus Andronicus the studio band and Titus Andronicus the live band. Here Stickles and crew have pulled back the expansiveness of their previous efforts in favor of a sound that is easier to reproduce in a live setting. The results are fantastic for the most part with songs such as In A Big City, Still Life With Hot Deuce on Silver Platter, and My Eating Disorder providing for plenty of energy and closest counterparts to their other albums. There are a few clunkers for sure (Food Fight and I Am the Electric Man come to mind), but for the most part the album flows well and improves with repeated listenings. The only huge complaint I can find is that the production is a bit muffled, and leaves the songs sounding muddy. Is it as good as either of the other two albums? The short answer is no, but by no means is Local Business a bad album, it is just a step in the evolution of a great band. OVERALL RATING = 7/10
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on January 3, 2013
It may not grab you as quickly as "The Monitor" but the writing and music is very strong here. Though not a concept album, it's strung together by the stream of conscious lyrics that just fit into the fantastic riffs.
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on December 6, 2012
The new Titus record is very good. Although I don't believe it reaches the heights of the ambitious "The Monitor", it is still a worth follow-up. The songs are catchy with much of that signature Titus Andronicus sound. Now I just need to catch these guys live!
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on May 9, 2013
Coming from any other Titus Andronicus album, this one is a bit of a surprise. It is minimal, almost downright quiet. There are no speeches to open songs or close them. There are no guest musicians. Guitar, drum, vocals and bass and nothing else. And my god, are these guys tight. They always have been, I guess, but it was hidden under the sheen of all the other instruments and intentionally slipshod playing. The songs are as striking as ever, and the stripped down format gives the frontman a lot more room to show off his guitar playing, and for those things it's worth it.
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on December 24, 2012
After eagerly awaiting its release after listening to The Monitor and Titus Andronicus hundreds and thousands of times, I was surprisingly disappointed in this album. It sounds like someone took the recordings and ran them through some sort of a machine to make them all sound muffled and without the detail and bombast the band produces even on their slower tunes. I bought it on I-Tunes first and at first thought maybe the muffled and polished over sound was just the electronic downloads. Got the CD from Amazon and found it was the same. I'm going to give it at least ten listens before making up my mind, but so far I'm a bit bummed by it. The Monitor blows this album away. Will still keep following these talented and smart guys no matter what, and hope they come close enough to see them.
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on December 31, 2012
Much more sparse and stripped down than pervious efforts, but great energy, urgency and just plain ability to rock the F out.
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on November 2, 2012
Three albums in, it is increasingly clear that Titus Andronicus is the best punk band since The Clash (sorry Green Day). Indeed, Patrick Stickles now sounds startlingly like Mick Jones -- just check out "Still Life with Hot Deuce on Silver Platter" and "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape with the Flood of Detritus". Simply put, the album sounds phenomenal. If you like guitars, bass, drums, and passionate vocals all driven by a brash spirit, then this is for you. The opener, "Ecce Homo" will resonate within the first 5 seconds. But like the Clash by the time of "London Calling," Titus Andronicus pushes the genre into unexpected places. How many other punk bands make so much use of the violin and glockenspiel, or as they did on their prior masterpiece "The Monitor", the cello and bagpipes?

For those of us with progressive views who naturally adore The Clash, it may seem lamentable that so much talent is channeled into Stickles' extreme introspection ("My Eating Disorder" is just TMI). But artists must be allowed the right to look inward, and it is perhaps all the more appropriate given the profound disappointment that is the 21st century. Even when Titus Andronicus veers into the political as in "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With the Flood of Detritus" it is firmly grounded in the personal, and the personal for Titus Andronicus is a grown-up & alcoholic Charlie Brown: "I gave my youth to yelling at rivers that refused to flood with angry tears/Now abundant beers await to erase redundant years." This is "Local Business" indeed.

BTW If you have the chance to see Titus Andronicus live, you simply must. It will be one of the most blistering musical experiences of your life.
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on November 21, 2012
It's not as expansive and ambitious as The Monitor, but still a fantastic record of punk songs. Patrick's lyrics have never been better.
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