Recommended by Chris Sutton
Listening to A Productive Cough, Titus Andronicus’ brand-new record, it's hard not to be impressed by the scope of their stylistic ambition, which forces the listener to view Americana through a scratched kaleidoscope. Earnest cantankerousness underscores each successive mini-opera touching on a bevy of influences, both urban and rural, in an attempt to validate the artistic quality of their New Jersey home. Singer Patrick Stickles projects his tattered odes with the aplomb of an enraptured punk troubadour while musically conjuring the Pogues’ audacious rootsiness, the Replacements’ frayed edges, and Neutral Milk Hotel's pastoral whimsy to poetically contrast the stadium-sized emotional bombast that’s endeared them to a well-earned cadre of fanatics. The countless hours of sweat-drenched performances and personal maturity have embedded themselves into these recordings, and anyone who's already been enjoying the band’s raw soliloquies will definitely appreciate this new chapter.