March 30, 2007 |
Ted Leo's consistent excellence is easy to take for granted. He's an astute writer of sharp political songs, a frenetic guitarist and smart arranger, a sincere and impassioned performer. Although he started in the Washington hard-core scene in Chisel, over the course of four albums with his band the Pharmacists he's delved into his love for two-tone reggae, for the second-generation mod rock of the Jam and the catchy, socially conscious punk of the Clash and Billy Bragg, and for the Irish rock of Thin Lizzy and the Pogues.
March 26, 2003 |
The whole of Hearts of Oak, the third album by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, argues that the North Jersey songwriter is a talent too ambitious and articulate to remain a secret of the punk-rock underground much longer. But the song that closes the case is "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?," a roiling tribute to the British ska bands of the late '70s and early '80s - the Specials, in particular. "I was going though a Specials renaissance on my CD player," said Leo, 33, sitting on an amplifier outside the Austin Convention Center after one of his four performances at the South by Southwest music festival earlier this month.
September 12, 2013 |
It was a night for new identities on Monday as Boot & Saddle, the long-shuttered former dive bar on South Broad Street, reopened in its new incarnation as a live music venue. The iconic boot-and-saddle neon sign has been dark for 17 years, but it continues to promise that "Country & Western" music will be heard inside. That will be the case, as bluegrass band the Highwater Preachers top an all-local bill on Wednesday night. But the room, capacity 175, will mainly be an indie-rock venue.
May 3, 2014 |
What makes a collaboration work? In the case of the unexpected and seemingly unlikely one between solo acts Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, more factors are in their favor than you might think. When the duo - who headline Union Transfer as the Both on Saturday - toured together in 2012, "I started watching Ted's shows," says Mann, talking on the phone over a shared line with Leo from Brooklyn. "There was a new song of his that I really wanted to play bass on," she says. That song was "The Gambler," the first track on their new album, The Both . "So I asked to sit in. It's really interesting to hear the sound he gets with just one guitar.
April 20, 2013
Sparks It makes perfect sense that for its Two Hands, One Mouth Tour, Sparks strip down to its essentials: brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). Since 1968 (when they were named Halfnelson), it's been the Maels and whomever else they could get to share their quirky vision. From power-pop to glam to cosmopolitan art-rock to coldly repetitive electro disco, and back again, it's always Russell singing warmly caustic lyrics, with falsetto set to "stun," and Ron hammering and tickling the keys, scowling all the way. If its recently released, first-ever concert recording Two Hands One Mouth, Live In Europe is any indication, expect hyper-driven, high-pitched glitter-rock ("Propaganda," "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us")
December 10, 2004 |
When they tore down the Chicago hotel where he had worked as a bellhop for a dozen years, Ike Reilly figured it was time to make his move. And so the service industry's loss became rock-and-roll's gain. "I probably would have quit anyway," the 42-year-old father of four said from his home outside the Windy City, talking about leaving his day job for a full-time music career. "I'd consider it a risk not doing this. . . . It's the one thing I can do. " Since then, Reilly, also a former gravedigger, has attacked the music with the intensity of a guy making up for lost time.
December 15, 2015 |
Introspective singer-songwriter Aimee Mann and passionate punk rocker Ted Leo initially seemed an unlikely pairing, and even though their collaboration as the Both has proved to be sweet musical synergy, their putting on a Christmas show was stranger still. But Christmas songs aren't all tinsel and twinkling lights, as Leo explained when introducing "It's a Gift" at Union Transfer on Saturday. "It's largely about sadness and loss," he said, to an approving audience. "Oh, you like that?"
February 7, 2002 |
Start the weekend off early with an evening of beautiful noise from Eltro, the Pearly Gates, and Hallelujah (9 tonight at the Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 215-238-5888, $7). After almost a decade, the Breeders, the band responsible for the best gum-cracking alt-pop tunes of the '90s and tomboy chic, are back, featuring notorious twins Kim and Kelly Deal, a new backing band, and a new record due out sometime in the 21st century. Another rocking band with a "B," Burning Brides, will open (10 p.m. tomorrow, North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar streets, 215-684-0808, $18, sold out)
December 19, 2002 |
TONIGHT: Get a healthy dose of demented folk and punk-rock from the Frogs, Sand Family, Adam Brodsky, and the Walkie Talkies (9 p.m., the Khyber, 56 S. 2nd St., 215-238-5888). Ted Leo and the Pharmacists return to the now back-in-business First Unitarian Church with the French Toast (the Make-Up's James Canty and Fugazi's Jerry Busher), City of Caterpillar, and in further insect names, Butterflies of Love (7 p.m., 2125 Chestnut St., 215-629-0614, $7, all ages). Also, the church, host of other valuable community events besides all-ages punk rock shows, needs some help getting back on its feet.
December 13, 2004 |
Ted Leo is such an able songwriter - so skilled at shaping impassioned tunes that merge the personal and the political - that it's easy to overlook just how good a musician the New Jersey rocker is. But at the First Unitarian Church on Friday, it was hard to miss. With bearded backups Dave Lerner on bass and Chris Wilson on drums - together known as the Pharmacists - Leo was the clean-shaven frontman of a formidable power trio, and his attributes as an elastic-voiced singer and subtly crafty guitarist were in stark relief.