WRITER Jonah Bayer
When you’re named after a Shakespeare play and you have a song that’s named after a Civil War–era naval battle (“The Battle Of Hampton Roads”), chances are someone in your band went to grad school. However, instead of being plodding and pretentious, Titus Andronicus’s second album sounds like a collaboration between The Hold Steady and Conor Oberst. What separates them from other acts currently fogging up Pitchfork editors’ bifocals is that these guys can actually play. The band pull off everything from twangy barroom sing-alongs, such as “Theme From ‘Cheers,’” to fist-pumping ragers like “A More Perfect Union,” and show that an ounce of energy outweighs a lifetime of irony.