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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Hearts Of Oak (Cover Artwork)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Hearts Of OakHearts Of Oak (2003)
Lookout Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Just to get it out of the way, this album is not as good as 2001's "The Tyranny Of Distance." But, to be fair, what is? I mean, that album was a near-flawless mesh of punk, dub, folk, rock, and pop coupled with Teddy's amazing lyricism, and it is one of the best records I own, hands down. So to .
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Just to get it out of the way, this album is not as good as 2001's "The Tyranny Of Distance." But, to be fair, what is? I mean, that album was a near-flawless mesh of punk, dub, folk, rock, and pop coupled with Teddy's amazing lyricism, and it is one of the best records I own, hands down. So to expect the man to try and top himself is wholly unfair.

And yet I hoped beyond hope that he could do it with this disc.

Well, like I said, he doesn't, but he comes pretty close, and "Hearts Of Oak" is an excellent companion to "The Tyranny Of Distance." If "TTOD" is an introspective indie rocker at his most vulnerable and exposed, then "HOA" is his older brother who's out of college, re-discovering just how underrated Thin Lizzy was and just how much fun it is to play air guitar. I suppose what that means is this record is a "return of the rock" to Mr. Leo's arsenal.

The majority of these 13 tracks are on the more uptempo side, with a dirty bass rubbing against Ted's guitar licks, seemingly imported from the late 1970's English scene. The Pharmacists sound tighter on this release than on "TTOD," and probably the main reason is because the band has solidified into a constant lineup [one who recorded 99% of the backing parts on this album]. On "Tyranny," instruments were passed around more than a beer bong at a frat party, but Ted seems to have found his permanent Pharmacists, and they are good at what they do.

An excellent addition to his band is the keyboard/organ stylings of Dorien Garry. She brings life to tracks like "The High Party," filling out the sound where otherwise it would have remained empty. Other instrumentation is kept minimal, however, beyond the basic guitar/bass/drums combination.

The title track sounds almost like Radio 4, with auxillary percussion peppered throughout, as well as Ted's guitar being heavy on the reverb. He makes his nu-dub sound better than those Brooklyn hipsters, however, as the song really jams out.

Lyrically, the man still seems to be a tad bit obsessed with water, as the theme pops up throughout this album [just like it did with "Tyranny"]. The lyrics are just as strong as ever, though - the man sure can spin an interesting yarn in just a few minutes' time, one of few modern songwriters who can succeed on this level.

Oh yeah, the vocals - Ted's falsetto is as powerful as ever, and his overall delivery is stronger than it ever has been, as evidenced in "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" and the album's bass-and-drums show-stopper, "The Ballad Of The Sin Eater." He even shares vocal duties with Dorien on some of the songs, and it adds a freshness not seen on his last album for the most part.

So where is the fault in the album, then? The disc's biggest drawback is it's apparent one-sidedness. There's a lot of rock on here, and you can shake your ass to a number of these tracks, but as the old saying goes, "variety is the spice of life" and Ted seems to be stuck with just salt and pepper for a big chunk of these tunes. Penultimate track "First to Finish, Last to Start" finally allows just him and a guitar to take over, and it gives me memories of "You Could Die [Or This Might End]" of "TTOD." It's a cool little number leading into the album's closer, the rollicking "The Crane Takes Flight." The use of a violin gives the song a "dancing around the campfire" sort of quality, and I feel like this would be a wonderful singalong in a pub in Ireland somewhere, pints of Guiness swinging back and forth with the beat of the song. But as the album ends, a lot of the middle tracks tend to blend together as one big uptempo 4/4 romp, with no signs of a diversion anywhere.

That being said, this is still a fantastic disc, one anyone would benefit from owning. If you like this, then I can assure you that you'd love "The Tyranny Of Distance." If this was any other year, this record would be a lock for a spot in my Top 10, but there are so many new releases coming out this year, it's going to be tough for Ted and company to see if they have the staying power that their last disc had with me. Only time will tell.

MP3s
Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?
The High Party

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The Tyranny Of DistanceAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyTed Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake The SheetsJawbreaker - Dear YouDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeOperation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Clash - London CallingLifetime - Jersey's Best Dancers

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
NachoHat (February 19, 2005)

Not as brilliant as Shake The Sheets and Tyranny of Distance but still brilliant.

Yeah, I felt the need to comment on every Ted Leo album. YOU WANNA TAKE IT OUTSIDE!?!?

Eddie (August 8, 2003)

yeah, and i'm sure conan had heard of the band prior to him introducing them, therefore, we can take what he says as fact. i'm sure that constantly working on late night gives conan tons of leisure time to pursue independent music. and no, i agree, the slash is silent. read it Ted Leo Pharmacists.

You don't think that maybe TL/P's manager, some TV producer, or whatever would have told Conan how to pronounce it before the show?

Oh, and this album is fucking awesome.

Anonymous (March 10, 2003)

Nuts to this, I just got Kid Dynamite tickets!!!!

-sickboi

maverick (March 10, 2003)

It's really nice to know that I'm not the only one on this site who watches pro wrestling.

-Scott

FortyMinutesWest (March 9, 2003)

"The D-Lo Brown this isn't all that obscure.
"

Silence, lest you fall to prey to the Sky High.

Anonymous (March 9, 2003)

you wanna fight bittttccchhh?
love, Tj

Anonymous (March 8, 2003)

I'm gonna kill you all. American fuck heads, I fuck you in the ass.

Anonymous (March 6, 2003)

T-Lo and the P's kick ass, man!

Anonymous (March 6, 2003)

The D-Lo Brown this isn't all that obscure.

plowro (March 6, 2003)

Not bad, although I wish I'd spent my money on something else. Some of the songs are upbeat and catchy and some are downright boring. The voice is cool in some songs and sucks in others. Its a fuckin phenomenon.

Anonymous (March 5, 2003)

T-Lo cant beat D-Lo Brown...better recognize.

You get a gold star for a D-Lo Brown referance.

Anonymous (March 5, 2003)

Over-fucking-rated...He best be cutting Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson checks..

Anonymous (March 5, 2003)

T-Lo cant beat D-Lo Brown...better recognize.

Anonymous (March 5, 2003)

This score is for T-Lo And The P's.

Anonymous (March 4, 2003)

This is pretty damn good.

Anonymous (March 4, 2003)

Lets all just say T-Lo and the P's like that other guy said.

ElVaquero (March 4, 2003)

Well, conisdering on the website it says "Ted Leo And The Pharmacists," I'm going to have to go with Ted And Slash The Pharmacists, Leo.... ampersand.

waste_elite (March 4, 2003)

i was joking

Anonymous (March 4, 2003)

yeah, and i'm sure conan had heard of the band prior to him introducing them, therefore, we can take what he says as fact. i'm sure that constantly working on late night gives conan tons of leisure time to pursue independent music. and no, i agree, the slash is silent. read it Ted Leo Pharmacists.

ThisMachineKF (March 3, 2003)

On Conan it was "Ted Leo and the Pharmacists."

waste_elite (March 3, 2003)

no, i'm right

Anonymous (March 3, 2003)

i believe it's pronounced simply 'ted leo pharmacists'. the slash is silent, suckahs

waste_elite (March 2, 2003)

it's pronounced ted leo slash pharmacists

Anonymous (March 2, 2003)

sorry, it's T-Lo and the P's

Anonymous (March 1, 2003)

no, you just say" T-Lo and P's

Anonymous (March 1, 2003)

I'm not a fan, so I have a silly question.

Spoken out loud, do you say, "Ted Leo AND THE Pharmacists?" or what?

fatman (March 1, 2003)

this cd fucking rocks my socks.

fAt mAn

Anonymous (March 1, 2003)

ydeeeeeeah you fuckiong glover fuvkers./ i'll tell you right now. i'm drunk as fucvk but fuck you. it's over. thius guy sounds ;like a panda. the kind thatr panda at thw zoo,0

Anonymous (February 28, 2003)

I think Ted is old enough to be my dad. I wish my dad rocked like Ted.

dignin (February 28, 2003)

I just submitted a cursive review, the review will probably suck but the album is amazing.

Anonymous (February 28, 2003)

you dont deserve to like ted leo

abileneINlove (February 28, 2003)

Blah blah blah. I want my Cursive review.

pope_schlomo (February 28, 2003)

i thought "tyranny of distance" was better than this. However this shit is good and it holds a slot on my top 10 of 2003. He was great on Conan too. Here's hoping he'll come back on the show again.

Ramo
(X gonna give it to ya)

Anonymous (February 28, 2003)

I'll give a 10 to any album I can shake my ass too!

sloppyblake (February 28, 2003)

they rocked on conan

Anonymous (February 28, 2003)

i agree with Scott for once -- this album didn't measure up to the last one (which is absolutely unreal). i definitely think Ted's vocals are more strained here, like he's trying a little too hard to be heard in the increased distortion. And he doesn't hit the kickass falsetto as much. But still, it's worth buying, and the limited national attention this album is receiving is warranted for sure.

Strewtho (February 28, 2003)

Tyranny of Distance is great

travis (February 28, 2003)

i just saw them tonight. ted leo is the mother fucking man

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