More than three decades ago, rock and roll stood on the cusp of two possible futures: Would it follow the path set out by punk, with its abrasive roar and cut-to-the-bone simplicity, or would it follow the path of Springsteen and his ilk, embracing nuanced singer-songwriter rock that appealed to heartland sensibilities? Turns out the answer is "yes," because music is not a zero-sum game, and when you hand a kid a bunch of records, he just likes what he likes, music-critic arguments and thought experiments be damned. Just ask Titus Andronicus, whose three albums — this year's Local Business is the latest — show off Springsteen-esque tunes powered by the raw vitality of punk and spiced up by whatever else is handy. It's a distinctly American sound that recalls the glory days of rock without ever seeming to look backward in its mad dash toward the future.
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