Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Living With the Living
Touch & Go Records 2007
Most critics and fans alike will agree that Ted Leo can do no wrong, and for the most part, they're all correct. Mr. Leo's newest jaunt is his fourth full-length (first for legendary Chicago imprint, Touch & Go Records), and by a longshot his most ambitious album to date. Produced by former Fugazi drummer, Brendan Canty, Living is brimming with everything you could want from a Ted Leo album. Lean, speedy post-punk jams, quasi-dub movements, even a good handful of lengthy tracks reminiscent of fan favorite, "Stove By a Whale." But somehow, this album sounds simultaneously more and less like Ted's past work.
The album's opener, "Sons of Cain" is a classic Pharmacists rock-out. Chris Wilson's drumming is tight and speedy as always, as Ted begins his frenetic strumming. This track, along with "Who Do You Love?", and the closer, "C.I.A." wouldn't sound out of place on any previous Pharmacists album. What's always been incredible about Mr. Leo is his ability to learn from his past. Not simply his musical influences, but his own musical history. From The Tyranny of Distance to Hearts of Oak to Shake the Sheets, he has taken the best parts of each album, and incorporated them into their successors, all the while adding new things to build from.
However, the difference between Living and say, Shake the Sheets, is that with Living, it may perhaps be just a bit too ambitious. While Leo scores with the reggae posturing of "The Unwanted Things", and hits home runs with the sprawling "La Costa Brava" and "The Lost Brigade", he manages to overreach just a little bit with the shorter tracks like "Colleen" and "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb."
In reality, this album is structured very much like his previous works. Ted Leo has a crack band, and he's a punk rock savant, who, unlike most in genre, is able to take all of his influences (The Pogues, latter-days Clash, The Jam, Billy Bragg, Minor Threat) and actually make them work together. He can create simple songs that will apply to the most hardened of hardcore kids, the most simple of Top 40 listeners, and the snobbiest of indie rockers all at the same time. Even with a few missteps on this album, Living With the Living still holds true to the same ethos and musicianship that Ted has always promised. (4/5 Stars)
Key Tracks: "Sons of Cain", "La Costa Brava", "The Unwanted Things", "C.I.A."
More Along These Lines: The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash, Billy Bragg - Talking With the Taxman About Poetry, Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material
Download The Album In This Free Link I've Provided For Your Broke Ass: Ted Leo/Pharmacists - Living With the Living
A few swift news items from the past week before we all move on with our days:
- Rage Against the Machine added three new dates to their reunion show/now tour of SoCal. Unless you'll be in L.A. late this summer, it's probably not worth it to you.
- Jeff Rosenstock's electronic-ska act, Bomb the Music Industry! have finished demo-ing their new album, and plan to record soon, with a tour to follow.
- Naked Raygun made Chicagoians very happy by announcing 2 reunion shows in their hometown, featuring guests like Dillinger Four and The Bollweevils.
- Hardcore stalwarts, Gorilla Biscuits announced a tour of Germany.
- North Lincoln posted a couple of demos in preparation for a very busy year.
- Former Godflesh frontman, Justin Broadrick's new band, Jesu, who just recorded a new album, were detained on their way into the states this week in support of Conquerer, and were forced to cancel some shows.
- Former None More Black teammates, Colin McGinniss and Paul Delaney (also of Kill Your Idols) have announced a new act, called Ram & Ox, possibly in response to the announcement of former NMB frontman Jason Shevchuk's new solo act, OnGuard.
- Thomas Barnett & Rob Huddleston's old outfit, Inquisition are reuniting as well.
- The Onion's A.V. Club interviewed the almighty Ian MacKaye
- El-Producto detailed his new album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead which will feature guests like Trent Reznor, Aes Rock, The Mars Volta, & Cat Power. Check out the first single, "Flyentology" (featuring Mr. Reznor), on iTunes right now.
- While on the subject of album details, Josh Homme and the Queens of the Stone Age detailed Era Vulgaris, and will also feature Trent Reznor, in addition to Mark Lanegan & Julian Casablancas.
- Shearwater signed to Matador Records and planned a re-release of last year's Palo Santo.
- The Jesus & Mary Chain tickled everyone's balls with talk of a new album and more tour dates.