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Titus Andronicus with Felix and Empress Hotel

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Northern Aggression

The lamentable tragedy of Titus Andronicus — Glen Rock, N.J., indie-rock band, not Roman imperial bloodletter — is for its audacious second album, 2010's The Monitor (XL), to be considered and dismissed on literary terms, an overblown treatise on underclass warfare by punks with a jones for academic metaphors. This isn't, in fact, altogether false. The title refers to the USS Monitor, first ironclad battleship commissioned by the United States Navy, and yes, the band did open and close the 65-minute LP with weighty Honest Abe quotes, dress it in period Civil War signposts, release it on the anniversary of the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads and cinch it with a quarter-hour aural historical reenactment by the same name. All of which amounts to little more than amusing subtext the second it starts, and the story becomes not the back story but the songs themselves. Titus' 2008 debut The Airing of Grievances threw the Pogues' aimless pint-swinging and Conor Oberst's shameless soul-baring onto the Garden State Parkway; The Monitor adds an army of guests (The Hold Steady, Vivian Girls, Ponytail, Wye Oak) chiming in widescreen nods to Neutral Milk Hotel's acrophobic Eastern Bloc anthems and No Idea-cum-Warner Bros. world-bleaters Against Me! "I want to realize too late I never should've left New Jersey," Patrick Stickles shouts between shout-outs to the Boss and John Brown. He might as well be saying: What's so civil about the rest of the U.S. anyway? Felix and Empress Hotel open. Tickets $10. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

April 22

Titus Andronicus with Felix and Empress Hotel

10 p.m. Friday

Hi-Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 945-4446

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