Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Michael Gentry
The role that Title Tracks lead singer John Davis played in the incredible and edgy, jittery math rock band Q And Not U in the late 90s, early 2000s is considerably different than the one that he perpetuates now. At that time, playing around the Washington, D.C. area - along with the ethos of Dischord Records floating in the air and fellow agit-rockers, sometimes hot-and-bothered smarties and soon to be reunited The Dismemberment Plan making themselves chums and worthy adversaries - Davis drummed and added some vocals to songs that spun and spit and kicked off the ground into far-flung directions like a bottle rocket slipping from the buttery fingers of a kid not respecting the force that he had been holding. With Title Tracks, without losing any creativity, he's gone and drawn some of the danger from the compositions - pulling it out gently as if in the middle of a game of Operation - but keeping the songs as rough and breathlessly sweaty. It's just a different part of the plant that he's seemingly focused on - maybe more of the petals and blossom - than the roots jutting out into dozens and dozens of different directions, looking for water or darker earth. It's as if he melded together the punk rock sensibilities that he lived while a member of Q And Not U with the more pop-leaning sensibilities of the last group that he was in, Georgie James with The Mynabirds' Laura Burhenn. There's the urban myth/urban truth that Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, at one time, kept a journal in which he analytically dissected every Green Day song to try and crack just how the song worked and why it worked - what was it making you feel and think. One could convince oneself that Davis could have done the same thing with Robert Pollard's work with Guided By Voices or Boston Spaceships and with his findings, thrown it all into one gigantic pot - with his past and distant past - and brought out of the boiling waters the material that's found on Title Tracks' debut full-length, "It Was Easy." With Michael Cotterman on bass and Andrew Black playing drums, Davis and Title Tracks write music that features a whiskery sweetness, like the kind of seasoned indie rock that comes out of and from men who are at a point in their lives where it's not longer the greatest fun to get piss-assed drunk, stay out til dawn and then sleep half of the day before hustling off to the next show and making excuses for the tardiness. It's coming from a couple men who have worn their bodies for a bit longer and, with that, they've found themselves honing and sharpening the art of what it means to remain fuzzy on many of the details, but know that you're not just flailing and shooting blindly. You've got a grasp on something and a line like this one, from the song "Found Out," - "I just found out today, I don't know what is happenin' to me" - is not a moan, just a statement.