Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Living with the Living

Take shades of punk and post punk, strains of rock and folk, and combine with melodicism, intelligence, the personal and the political, strong songwriting and a tight, confidant guitar/bass/drums trio and you get something like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.  This is a solid band and “Living ted leowith the Living” is a terrific album.  The Pharmacists are Leo on guitar, Dave Lerner, bass and Chris Wilson, drums.  They play tight angular guitar rock, sometimes angry, sometimes gentle but always thoughtful and well executed.  Think the musical range of London Calling-era Clash combined with the song writing chops of early Elvis Costello before the delusions of Gershwin took hold. 

The anti-war screed of “Bomb.Repeat.Bomb” has been getting a lot of press and it jumps out on first listen because of its anger and intensity.  The tune’s abrasiveness fits its subject matter perfectly but also makes it the kind of track that doesn’t lend itself to repeated play.  That’s not the case for many of the other tunes on the album which range from the dub-influenced “The Unwanted Things” through the slightly folk sound of “A Bottle of Buckie” to the solid rock and pop of “The Sons of Cain”, “Army Bound” or “Colleen”.  You know how sometimes a tune just fits a niche so right that you fall in love with it?  One track on the album, “La Costa Brava”, did that for me and I can’t stop playing it. 

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists come across as a band that plays the kind of music it wants to play without regard for whatever is being marketed as the-music-you-have-to-listen-to-if-you-want-to-be-cool.  Leo can write, the band can play and “Living with the Living” is an album that we’ll return to months later.  Highly recommended.

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05/13/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music

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