Make no mistake: Titus Andronicus is no solo vehicle. It's a booming, bombastic bar-rock army, unified in its mission. But denying the importance of frontman Patrick Stickles' lyrics is as foolhardy as thinking this band won't blow the roof off. Like a well-read disciple of Bruce Springsteen and Conor Oberst, Stickles dives headlong into grandiose themes and bold imagery (the band is, after all, named after that Shakespeare play), but where a lesser performer would drown in his own overbearing allusions, Stickles hollers with surplus conviction (as his band stomps and swaggers with the same), turning even lines like "tramps like us, baby we were born to die" into creeds you wouldn't be too embarrassed to recite, full-throated, back at him. —Bryan Reed
Corrections: Corrections have been made to this listing.