- TED LEO AND CHRIS WILSON
Despite his steady output of records, though, I've found Leo's music to have little sticking power. Here's a theory to test: Most people who care enough to have one of his records have just one. If you know which one it is, you can make a rough guess at the album owner's age. (Mine is “Hearts of Oak.”)
The live show he brought to Juanita's last Tuesday with his band, the Pharmacists, was a reminder that, yeah, he's still around, and yeah, he's still good. The set was rapid-fire — except for a brief pause to replace the drummer's broken bass drum, there was hardly any lull or banter.
Even during that interlude, the bassist kept playing his line — to the song “One More Time,” by the electronica duo Daft Punk. When Daft Punk plays the song live, they do it with computers and vocoders on a large elevated stage while wearing giant motorcycle helmets. Hearing Leo bring the tune down to its most basic level made me crack a smile.
Later Leo launched into a song that sounded like a ramped-up version of Bruce Springsteen's “The Promised Land.” The vocals were muddied, though, and I couldn't tell for sure if it was. The conventional wisdom on Leo, or at least on his more recent stuff, is that it's derivative of straightforward '70s rock — Thin Lizzy is a name that gets tossed around — and the song, whatever it was, seemed to confirm that.
This is not a complaint, though. Leo's strength is fast guitar music with a snarl, and that's what he played. And, as usual, he rewarded the attentive listener, this time with musical quips like “One More Time.”
— John Williams