Stop, Don't Drop, Let Punk Roll

Lookout! Records, much like REO Speedwagon, rolls with the changes

And finally, last and greatest, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, current Lookout! critical darlings (Yeah? Well, fuck you, too.) for damn good reason. The quartet swiped and perfected all its label brethren's niftiest tricks -- Dr. Frank's shy wit, Communiqué's Ric Ocasek weaponry, the Pattern's out-of-control enthusiasm -- but Leo injected pure, unparalleled star power. Witness his manic, insatiable rant on "The Ballad of the Sin Eater," stripping the sound down to bass and drums just so he could repeatedly bang a tambourine against the side of his head before chucking it into the audience and shouting the chorus: "You didn't think they could hate ya now, did ya?"

It was the showcase's first and only truly command performance, "punk" in vibe but unbound by any sonic stigma. He'll sell maybe eight billion fewer records than Green Day, but as long as Lookout! embraces that, the world will continue to embrace Lookout!. You'll know it when you see it, and better yet, you'll actually like it.

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