Music News

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: The Brutalist Bricks, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Title: The Brutalist Bricks
Release date: March 9
Label: Matador

Did any of you watch the Oscars last night? Judging by what I saw on the Facebook this morning, it would appear I was one of the few who didn't tune in. I like movies, but I just couldn't see a reason to watch. If it were just a celebration of movies and Hollywood and celebrities, it'd be a lot more appealing. All the awards stuff is simply ridiculous. Why are artistic works in competition with each other? Competition is what sports and board games are for.

And who can take seriously any organization that deems Sandra Bullock its best actress. Huh? People complain about the Grammys (with good reason), but the Oscars are no different. It's all bullshit. That's why an artist like Ted Leo will never win a Grammy, even though he's as good a musical act as there is going right now. 

This record, The Brutalist Bricks, is the first time I'd heard Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Damn good band. Certainly better than most of the artists who walked away with Grammys this year. It doesn't matter, though. I'm sure Mr. Leo has a devoted following and hopefully makes a respectable living playing rock music, because he's really good at it.

Smart lyrics and even smarter music, but not without plenty of big, dumb rock to keep it from being a good party record. This record's got tons of great hooks and punk energy, all while fitting comfortably in the vaguely defined "indie rock" genre. 

To me, Ted Leo seems like a latter-day Elvis Costello. In fact, this record sounds very much like it could've been produced by Nick Lowe and released on Stiff Records in 1979. And that's about as strong an endorsement as I can give a record. 

I just looked up Ted Leo's touring schedule. Seems he's playing Club Congress in Tucson on March 28. Road trip, anyone?

Best song: Tough to pick just one. Really, on this 13-song, 41-minute record, there's not a clunker. I'll say the last song, "Last Days," because the insane guitar riff and catchy chorus perfectly encapsulate this record.
Rotation: Heavy
Deja Vu: The Plimsouls meets The Raspberries meets Squeeze meets The Damned
I'd rather listen to: This Year's Model
Grade: A

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett