Living With the Living
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When it comes to consistency, Ted Leo is the man. When it comes to writing songs bristling with nervy energy and sincere conviction that inspire, question, and reflect, there are only a few of his peers that can really measure up. Living with the Living marks full-length number five for Leo and his crew of Pharmacists, and it's another literate and stirring collection of songs built around his sweetly elastic voice and tightly wound guitars. On personal and human levels, he hits it all — anger, happiness, frustration, love, uncertainty, hope, sadness, rebellion — in songs that burst with passion and a true zest for being alive; cuts like the bright immediacy of "The Sons of Cain" and the tender Irish-flavored frolic of "A Bottle of Buckie" find Leo in top form and easily put a smile on one's face. Bitter political assertions surface like usual, yet nothing in Leo's career thus far hits quite as hard as the acerbically blunt rant of "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb." Brazen, in-your-face and stretched to the seams with seething defiance, Leo basically barks a giant f**k you to the government. It's all upfront danger and burning emotion when he spits, "Oh sure, you could mobilize a million troops...but then people start to ask questions/So when you drop in out of the white clouds in a blue sky/Don't worry about them having to see the whites of your blue eyes." The anxious pace and shout-singing make the song a definite standout, and though there are other tracks present to further vary things a bit — the dub-inflected "The Unwanted Things," the slow-paced poignancy of "The Toro and the Toreador" — the one fault (if you can find one at all with him) is that Leo has basically been writing the same album for the last few years. All excellent albums with stellar songs, but really, there's not much sonically to separate his records (or his pretty straightforward, by-now almost formulaic songs) out from one another. Plenty of Living with the Living measures up with his best, so it's really hard to knock such a likable guy who obviously knows his strengths and can consistently execute great songs — sentimental and motivating, socially conscious and challenging, Leo hardly falters. Yet although his mixture of politics, heart and intelligence with taut guitars and a sweet falsetto will presumably be engaging forever (and Leo hits much more than he ever misses), it's getting hard to ignore that little voice inside that wants something more from him. Something a bit different that stretches his songwriting further and shows that he's really trying to push himself. There's no denying his talent, and five winning albums is still a hell of a streak. But Ted, we know you've got more in you.
More mining of a great vein
Let me open this review by saying: I know nothing. Nada. Niente. To the point, I dont know how well Ted Leo's albums sell. I don't know how much airplay he receives, or on how many soundtracks he's featured, or how well respected he is by his contemporaries. What I do know is that every single time I've played Ted Leo's music for someone, they've sat forward, or stopped talking for a moment, or set down their glass and turned to ask: "Who's this again?" Once informed, they usually say: "Why haven't I heard him before?" Not "Where have I heard him before" or "He sounds so much like..." but an obivous admission of 1) respect and appreciation and 2) recognition of his unique sound. I agree with the review - this is more of his rocking, perfect same. It's a slow burn that I liked on first listen, kept returning to in a vain attempt to exorcise the occasional snippet of melody, and a month later ended up playing regularly in all sorts of inappropriate venues. That said, until I throw on a Ted Leo album in company and hear people say "Eh, this is rad, but I prefer Hearts of Oak" or "When is he going to score a poorly filmed movie?" I'll ignore that little voice the reviewer speaks of. The one that wants more from him, something new-and-different. The one that thinks John Spencer really only needed to make two albums, and that the Who aren't a career, they're one reallllly looong album. No, I'll go with the one that plays multiple Who albums and listens to all of John Spencer's schlock and wants EVERYONE to know Ted Leo's Rock-Pop-Greatness before he moves on to more fulfilling and likely self-indulgent artistic pastures. Good rock is a gift. Make the most of it before calling it 'tired.'
Saw Ted Supporting Aimee
Anyone who went to see Aimee Mann in London 2013, and was too cool to catch this guy open the show.... big mistake ! One guy, one guitar , a whole load of noise and some great songs.... He played Toro And The Toreador, first hearing and i was hooked... brilliantly melancholic. Looking forward to his collaboraton with Aimee later in the year.
Top Albums and Songs by Pharmacists
||A Bottle of Buckie||Living With the Living||3:11||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Who Do You Love?||Living With the Living||4:14||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Come Baby Come||Treble In Trouble - EP||3:40||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||The Sons of Cain||Living With the Living||3:59||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Little Girl In Bloom||Treble In Trouble - EP||6:09||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone||Hearts of Oak||5:02||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||La Costa Brava||Living With the Living||5:56||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Abner Louima vs. Gov. Pete Wilson||Treble In Trouble - EP||2:53||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||Treble In Trouble||Treble In Trouble - EP||2:09||£0.79||View In iTunes|
||The 11th||Treble In Trouble - EP||4:17||£0.79||View In iTunes|