Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Fired Up” by Titus Andronicus from the 2015 album The Most Lamentable Tragedy on Merge Records.
Named for Shakespeare’s first (and perhaps bloodiest) tragedy, the ambition of the New Jersey rock band Titus Andronicus is unquestionable. Led by the outspoken singer/songwriter/guitarist Patrick Stickles, the band formed in 2005 and established themselves as a Northeast DIY-venue staple before embarking on their earliest large tours in support of The Airing of Grievances, their 2008 debut album. The band became critical darlings nearly overnight with the release of 2010’s The Monitor, a lengthy concept album using themes of the Civil War as imagery for Stickles’ own personal reflections. The Monitor landed on numerous Best Of 2010 lists and propelled the band to tour for over a year, and in after a lineup shuffle, the band returned with the 2012’s dour, less conceptual Local Business. After taking some time off and playing sporadic shows in the Northeast, the band’s ambition returned this year in the form of this year’s 93-minute, 29-song, five-act rock opera The Most Lamentable Tragedy. Within the sprawling triple-album, there are many rousing, explosive rock songs about pushing beyond one’s own struggles, and “Fired Up” might be the one that best encapsulates the album’s dense, multi-faceted themes. Built around Stickles’ always-reliable yearning howl of a voice, he surrounds himself with windmill-worthy guitar riffs, strings (courtesy of Owen Pallet), backing vocalists and whatever else he can recruit to be part of his DIY-Street Band, and the result is nothing short of magnificent. As Local Business proved, Titus Andronicus can be a very good compact, high-energy punk band, but how many bands can make throwing in the kitchen sink their go-to play and consistently turn hole-in-the-wall clubs into Shea Stadium for 90 minutes? “Fired Up” is Titus at their most far-reaching, and propelled by their own self-confidence, it’s also the band at their most triumphant.
Titus Andronicus will bring The Most Lamentable Tragedy to Seattle when they stop by the Crocodile on October 4. Get tickets and more info on that all ages gig here, keep up with Stickles’ thoughts on the band’s Twitter and website, and below, watch the video for the TMLT standout “Dimed Out”.