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Music Review: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Living With the Living

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Sound: Melodic punk with do-it-yourself passion, political conviction and a well-read vocabulary. As always, Ted and Company keep the spirit of The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Jam alive, but continue to carve out their own niche behind the strength of Ted’s powerful pipes – which can slice and jab or sweetly croon – his ideological poetry and the band’s well-rounded, top-shelf, and spirited musicianship.

Note: After three albums on Lookout! Records, this is the band’s first release for the 25-year-old, underground institution Touch and Go Records.

Heavy Rotation tracks: “Army Bound”; “Sons of Cain”

Medium Rotation tracks: “Who Do You Love?”; “The Lost Brigade”; “A Bottle of Buckie”; “Bomb.Repeat.Bomb”

Recommended: Living With the Living is Ted Leo and The Pharmacists most accessible album to date. Despite its hour-plus length and having a few tracks run into 5-7 minute territory, it’s a hooky, easy-to-listen-to record throughout. On the other hand, it’s their least challenging and innovative release, and it lacks the stunning, bona-fide hits of Hearts of Oak (my #9 album of 2003) or the same caliber of highlights as 2004’s Shake the Sheets. Regardless, Ted Leo’s still one of the most vital and talented artists out there. All of his music is good for your mind and soul.

Grade: B+

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