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Ted Leo, 'Living with the Living'


New Jersey native Ted Leo has a new album out. It's called "Living with the Living." He's a favorite among indie rockers who like a little politics with their angst. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone magazine has this review.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. TED LEO (Musician): (Singing) (Unintelligible).

Mr. CHRISTIAN HOARD (Rolling Stone Magazine): For most of the '90s, Ted Leo toiled in relatively obscure indie-rock bands. In the summer of 2000, I saw him play an excellent show to 20 college kids in a basement in Michigan. Nowadays, though, Leo is headlining much larger venues, having caught on with a sizeable audience. And Leo has just released his best album yet.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LEO: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

HOARD: "Living with the Living" mixes Leo's typically spry, punk-influenced sound with plenty of melody and some other good stuff. The result is a pretty good record, one that, at its best, is both rousing an infectious.

(Soundbite of song, "The Sons of Cain")

Mr. LEO: (Singing) Cold, lonely and endless (unintelligible) cold morning (unintelligible).

HOARD: That song, "The Sons of Cain," typifies much of "Living with the Living," which Leo recorded with his backing band, the Pharmacists. It's a bouncy, catchy cut with Leo's high, piercing voice set against guitars that are ragged but nimble.

(Soundbite of song, "The Sons of Cain")

Mr. LEO: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

HOARD: Befitting of a smart and restless guy, Leo also delves into power pop and touches on folk, R&B and reggae. Leo also gives you politically charged, left-leaning lyrics on songs like "CIA." Suffice to say, Leo's not so thrilled with that organization.

A few of those political cuts suggest a sort of alternate version of The Clash. Here's one of them, "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb."

(Soundbite of song, "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.")

Mr. LEO: (Singing) (Unintelligible). As you're coming over the mountains between the green Earth and the sky…

HOARD: There are a few problems with "Living with the Living," namely Leo's voice gets a little annoying when he stretches it to the limits, and there's some forgettable material. But in a year already filled with acclaimed indie-rock releases by The Arcade Fire and The Shins, Ted Leo won't be forgotten, thanks in part to cuts like this one, "A Bottle of Buckie," which shows that Leo has a tender side to go with his hot tunes.

(Soundbite of song "A Bottle of Buckie")

BRAND: The album is "Living with the Living" by Ted Leo. Christian Hoard is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christian Hoard
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