Saturday night's Titles record release show at Cafe Nine was a pretty big deal, seeing how the guy who made the awesome "We Have No Hands" and "Fuck It" videos was right up front taping it, and judging by all of the media heavies that were in attendance: John from CT Indie, that guy from the Courant, presumably someone from the Advocate (though I didn't actually spot anyone, I'm just guessing), and a host of others that I'm sure I wouldn't recognize... no doubt there'll be a ton of words slung around about this show, which sorta has me reluctant to add my own noise to the fray. I mean, really, I read the write-up in the Hartford paper this morning and the only thing that was missing was the hash marks and the time-of-day notations that I'm sure were visible in the margins while the guy was taking notes. That, and a list of synonyms for "layered" and "understated". Do you really expect me to stick my head out of the bunker with that kind of ammo whizzing around? Fuuuuuck me.
This actually wasn't even my favorite Titles set from this year-- I thought the one when they opened for Vetiver and Happy Birthday was better, a little bit more off-the-cuff and winging it-- but this one had one big thing in its favor, which was they got to play for a heck of a lot longer and mix things up a little. Everybody had a full hour to soak up Titles, which is a fortunate thing, no doubt. There was even a little bit of comedy relief (besides Brad's on-stage jokes, which, you know, the practice is really paying off), as John Miller's drum kit kept sliding forward, which Matt Thomas (M.T. Bearington) tried to solve at first with a cinder block, then finally with a 40-lb set of barbell weights that he "just happened to have in the trunk of the car." If that's not Youth Crew enough for you-- on the same stage where Crippled Youth played just six months earlier, no less-- then I don't know what your problem is.
Dirt Bell's predecessor, Up With The Sun, was my favorite CT record of '08, and one wag is already calling Dirt Bell "the best Connecticut release ever"; no doubt you'll be seeing this one on plenty of best-of lists at the end of the year, also. One thing you won't find as often on the new record is what has been my favorite sort of Titles song, which is the slow burn that builds to a massive guitar pile-up (Up With The Sun's "Piano Girl" is probably the best example of that); the one track on Dirt Bell that I think comes the closest, "Who to Hold", actually has more of a Bobby Darin/'50s crooner type feel to it, which the band plays up with the use of handclaps and some oddball backing vocals. The ingenuity of this record can be better found in something like "Pillowcase", an amazingly gorgeous song about a guy digging up his ex-girlfriend (I'm guessing) so he can carry her around all day in a pillowcase.
I think it says a lot for a still-growing label like Safety Meeting when they can put out a local release that's getting this kind of attention already, and the packaging for the album definitely follows through on its end; besides the regular CD, one hundred numbered copies were pressed on vinyl, with silver/grey artwork hand-silkscreened onto black jackets, plus a CD (with minimal artwork) included with the LP version. The tracks I'm posting here aren't from the CD, of course, but are my own vinyl rips. "Pillowcase" has been available as a free download as part of the Tweefort "Home and Abroad" compilation for a few months now, and "Fuck It" has been out as a video since last October, so I don't think I'm giving away too much of the store by including these three songs here.
"Who to Hold"