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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living with the Living (Cover Artwork)

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Living with the LivingLiving with the Living (2007)
Touch and Go Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


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

If great American songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen had grown up in the east coast post-hardcore scene of the late 1980s they probably would have sounded a lot like Ted Leo. With their fifth release, Leo and his Pharmacists offer the enjoyable Living with the Living, an album that cov.
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If great American songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen had grown up in the east coast post-hardcore scene of the late 1980s they probably would have sounded a lot like Ted Leo. With their fifth release, Leo and his Pharmacists offer the enjoyable Living with the Living, an album that covers all the musical bases.

Upon its surface, Living is an upbeat, fun album with plenty of songs that could easily shuffle in and out of your iPod DJ rig at a party -- without your tone-deaf roommate scurrying toward the computer to press that pesky double-right arrow. With further diagnosis however, you would hear that Leo isn't just a party-starter -- he's a thinker as well, as displayed repeatedly throughout his lyric sheets and song structures.

After a short intro track, Living launches into "The Sons of Cain," which perfectly highlights all of Leo and The Pharmacists best attributes: diverse instrumentation, soaring melodies and focused, tight musicianship.

In the Joe Strummer-ish "Army Bound" Leo's thoughtful lyrics shine, showing the ups and downs of serving one's country ("in every cradle there's a grave now / in every owner there's a slave now").

While Leo may be a singer/songwriter at heart, he can also play the hell out of a guitar and he doesn't try to hide that fact. There are many searing, fuzz-drenched scale-climbers scattered throughout Living that add an old rock 'n' roll feel to some of the more experimental tracks.

The Pharmacists channel the Beatles in "Colleen," an unapologetic pop song that is sweeter than your little brother's breakfast cereal. Leo somehow manages to find over 20 words that rhyme with Colleen, while remaining to be unpredictable and also sticking to the storyline.

"A Bottle of Buckie" is a drinking song that could make the Pope break down, grab a double-deuce of Old Style, bong it and then smash the empty can against his funny hat.

"Bomb.Repeat.Bomb" is the oddest song of the bunch, with its sporadic guitars cutting through the backbeat like surgical steal, while Leo does his best spoken word impersonation via the verses before exploding into a retro-rock chorus reminiscent of the White Stripes or the Hives.

The Pharmacists get dub-ish on "The Unwanted Things," funky on the seven-and-a-half minute "The Lost Brigade," and intimate with "The Toro and Toreador," which begins with over two minutes of just Leo's vocals and a tremolo-soaked guitar, then explodes into something that Hendrix may have written if he had lived past the age of 27.

The highlight of the album is the laid-back, sunny "La Costa Brava." Every time I hear it I long to be on the highway, windows down on a summer night, headed nowhere in particular, but just happy to be moving. Leo fully utilizes all six minutes of the song, drawing out verses with the steady palm-mute of his trusty Gibson ES-335, and getting all nostalgic about some places in Spain he's visited that he'd like you to see too.

Living lasts a full hour with its 15 tracks, which may be a bit much for some people in one listen, and there are a few throwaway tracks, truth be told. However, the material is so diverse that it's closer to a well-made mix CD rather than your standard full-length; and when the songs are this good, it's easy to live with.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitBomb the Music Industry! - VacationJawbreaker - Dear YouTed Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake The SheetsJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyBomb the Music Industry! - ScramblesNOFX - The Decline

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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.
deadelectromix (January 26, 2008)

I forget which song it is, but one of the ones on here reminds me a whole lot of Johnny Appleseed by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros.

Problematiclogic (April 6, 2007)

Well it's not as good as Shake The Sheets but I appreciate the difference in style. The heavier stuff like "Bomb.Repeat. Bomb." and "Living with the Living" are good. The Chumbawamba cover on the EP is very good. But "Who Do You Love" is my favourite.

allison_le_gnome (March 23, 2007)

"I had that problem too. Go into "get info" then click the tab sorting I deleted "sort name" then I went into the "info" tab and deleted the album artist on that tab."

Thanks! I had noticed the album artist thing, but I wasn't sure if that was the problem or not.

halfcutskeleton (March 22, 2007)

"Is anyone else with the mp3s from the Touch and Go site having trouble getting the tracks to show up in the right order on an iPod? They're tagged correctly, as far as I can tell, but Fourth World War is showing up after The Sons of Cain."

I had that problem too. Go into "get info" then click the tab sorting I deleted "sort name" then I went into the "info" tab and deleted the album artist on that tab.

I-type-poorly (March 22, 2007)

"hey guess what>? ted leo fucking completely sucks and his band of 2 fruitcakes rock about as hard as good fucking charlotte. overrated and so incredibly lame, and his voice, as usual, sounds like scratching a chalk board."

This is certainly news... OK, you heard him, folks... Anonymous has spoken. Everyone, form an orderly queue and toss your TL/RX albums in the bin. I know, I know, you've been enjoying his music for years, but apparently it's all been a misunderstanding...

Anonymous (March 22, 2007)

I heard Scott was stoked. Can anyone confirm?

Anonymous (March 22, 2007)

hey guess what>? ted leo fucking completely sucks and his band of 2 fruitcakes rock about as hard as good fucking charlotte. overrated and so incredibly lame, and his voice, as usual, sounds like scratching a chalk board.

gregs (March 22, 2007)

"Has anyone else noticed that there is a bonus song on itunes? Its called Vain Parade. It wasn't on my vinyl version of this or the free EP. More songs = cool."

I noticed that as well and bought the song. It's different. The 30 second clip is misleading. It starts out with that reggae sound and then turns into a rocking instrumental noise fest for 3 minutes and then finishes up for a minute or two of polite organ.

capitalist_pig (March 22, 2007)

Pretty good album but probably the weakest of his most recent four.

Why did I not know about the Sharkbite Sessions until just now? Why did no one tell me that Ted covered Suspect Device, one of the best song Stiff Little Fingers ever wrote?

allison_le_gnome (March 22, 2007)

Is anyone else with the mp3s from the Touch and Go site having trouble getting the tracks to show up in the right order on an iPod? They're tagged correctly, as far as I can tell, but Fourth World War is showing up after The Sons of Cain.

GlassPipeMurder (March 22, 2007)

The more I read it, this is a weird review. I would hardly say "La Costa Brava" is the highlight of the album, as "Sons of Cain", "Who Do You Love?", "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb", "Bottle of Buckie", and "Army Bound" all seem like far better songs to me. And "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb" sounds much more like Crass or Conflict or even early Fugazi than the Hives or the White Stripes...

tommytumult (March 21, 2007)

Re: Asian Man "essentials"

You guys forgot anything by Slapstick

halfcutskeleton (March 21, 2007)

I forgot to score. Awesome album

halfcutskeleton (March 21, 2007)

Has anyone else noticed that there is a bonus song on itunes? Its called Vain Parade. It wasn't on my vinyl version of this or the free EP. More songs = cool.

feeeding5000 (March 21, 2007)

I'd say Ted is more like a poppy Billy Bragg - especially his solo stuff, sans Pharmacists. Anyway, I have his first two albums, so I'll probably go out and pick up this and "Shake..." in the next week or so. He really is one of the best pop songwriters of his generation, and I hope I can get to see him play sometime soon. What happened w/ his scheduled show at 930?

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

Asian Man Five

Alkaline Trio - "Maybe I'll Catch Fire"
The Broadways - "Broken Star"
Less Than Jake - "Pezcore"
MU330 - "Chumps On Parade"
Slapstick - "25 Songs"

Thought the MU330 is more of an acquired taste. if not, go with Screaching Weasel.

chirpy_boy (March 21, 2007)

"FIVE AMAZING ASIAN MAN RELEASES"

Shinobu-Worstward Ho!
The Lawrence Arms- Cocktails and Dreams
Short Round-Language
Slow Gherkin-Run Screaming
Colossal-Welcome the Problems

there are plenty of great records on asian man. get these.

Scruffy (March 21, 2007)

So, how does Shake The Sheets and this compare to Hearts Of Oak? Because I bought that album when it came out because of the hype. I still LOVE Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone, but none of the rest of it stuck with me. The songs seemed way too long for what they were. But I do like the basics of the sound. Would I like this and/or Shake The Sheets a lot more?

GlassPipeMurder (March 21, 2007)

i agree with Shake the Sheets being perfect. some of the songs on here are wayyy too long, or at least much longer than necessary. "Bomb.Repeat.Bomb" is awesome though.

m-oo (March 21, 2007)

Buckie is fortified tonic wine made by benedictine(spelling?..fuck it) monks in Devon, England. You can buy it easily in Ireland, Scotland and England. I also came across it in Mallorca as well while I was on holiday, best holiday of my life.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckfast_Tonic_Wine

JonC (March 21, 2007)

Buckie is "Buckfast Tonic Wine." Check it out online.

rinjonjori (March 21, 2007)

Shakes the Sheets for me was perfect. All Killer, No Filler, as the Sum 41 folks say. This was dissappointing to say the least. It's good enough for me to want more, but there are just so many missteps. "Bomb" the last four minutes oF "Lost Brigade". The tin whistle in "bottle of Buckie" is a great addition. I just want to know what Buckie is and where I can buy it.

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

Shakes the Sheets for me was perfect. All Killer, No Filler, as the Sum 41 folks say. This was dissappointing to say the least. It's good enough for me to want more, but there are just so many missteps. "Bomb" the last four minutes oF "Lost Brigade". The tin whistle in "bottle of Buckie" is a great addition. I just want to know what Buckie is and where I can buy it.

GlassPipeMurder (March 21, 2007)

Knowledge - "A Gift Before I Go"
anything by Broadway
anything by Tuesday
anything by Skankin' Pickle
Lawrence Arms - "Ghost Stories"

Anonymous (March 21, 2007)

ok, this may seem way out of place but help me out here.

Five best Asian Man releases.

I'm hittin' that mailing order shit up, and am not sure what I really want, besides some blue meanies, polysics, and MU330.

So what are the "Asian Man" essentials??..

PS: Ted Leo fucking rules, but I think I'll skip on this disc. I didn't enjoy Shake The Sheets, and wasn't diggin whatver mp3's I've heard from this album.

allison_le_gnome (March 21, 2007)

My preorder came this afternoon, and I've listened to it twice so far. That's enough to have an overwhelmingly positive opinion, but not enough to rank it compared to previous albums. Either way, it's an awesome album.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

way to answer my own question, but this is the bonus EP tracklisting

1. Nothing Much to Say
2. Old Souls Know
3. Living With The Living
4. Already Too Late?
5. Rappaort's Testament: I Never Gave Up

wyzo

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

whats on the ep?

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

It should be mentioned that the "Mo' living" ep is equally as good as the full length.

chirpy_boy (March 20, 2007)

Just bought it today! Great fucking record. Better than shake the sheets. BOOYA

lol_omg_wtf_nambla (March 20, 2007)

"this is below modest mouse?! blasphemy!"

We're ranking albums based on the order (from top to bottom) they appear on the site now? Has this always been going on? I mean, I loathe Modest Mouse, but I honestly don't care where their band name appears in relation to the name of a band I like. Is the order of appearance based on predicted popularity? If so, then it makes sense that MM goes first 'cause I'll bet they'll sell a few more units than the good Mr. Leo will. Not that that's a dig against him, it's more a dig against everyone else.

theyounginfluential (March 20, 2007)

not as good as Shake The Sheets, but still a damn good album. my favorite song is "The Lost Brigade"

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

I like how Interpunk wait until the very day of an album's release before they ship it to you... Plus, although I pre-ordered it for $13,50 (the bonus EP better be included), when I looked at their site today, it was priced at $12,75. Such bullshit.

Anyway, I won't let that detract from what will surely be one of the year's best albums. Now hopefully D4 can get their act together and put out something new, making 2007 better than the disappointing last two years in terms of good releases.

-Chinatown

nocigar (March 20, 2007)

this is below modest mouse?! blasphemy!

Of course it is. Don't get me wrong, Ted Leo is great, but the new Modest Mouse is better.

I-type-poorly (March 20, 2007)

Start with Hearts or Shake The Sheets. Also, the Costello comparison is legit. I've been saying that for years.

youwinalemon (March 20, 2007)

"throw away songs like The Unwanted Things"
Yeah, I can see that. I like the track, but it's easily the album's weakest.

"and A Bottle of Buckie."
Now hold up, son. That's probably my favorite track on the album. No way is that a throw away.

Anyway, this is probably my favorite album from this year so far. Ted, why are you so damn consistent?

Tyranny > Living > Shake > Hearts. Well, right now. My favorite Ted record changes pretty much every other week.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

Never heard this guy before, whats the best album to start with?

m-oo (March 20, 2007)

Score is for bucky. The best drink of all time. If you can drink 2 bottles of it and remember what you did the night before I salute you!

GlassPipeMurder (March 20, 2007)

nah, he's way more punk than Elvis Costello.

I'd say Joe Strummer is a good parallel.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

I think the songwriter I'd most compare Ted to is Elvis Costello. Think about it: witty lyricists who write vocal-centric, punk-related but not quite punk songs.
-Osloboditelj

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

Wow, if the Pope did that I guess he really would "Bong it for Jesus!"

OH! I'm good!

Too bad free speech is going to get pwn3d by the Supreme Court.

red_eye_inc (March 20, 2007)

Comparing this guy to Bob Dylan is absolutely ludicrous.

I-type-poorly (March 20, 2007)

Mediocre realease for Ted. But if every band could say that a cd as good as this was their worst album, music in general would be a whole lot better.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

I agree with the guy below me who says this album is very inconsistent... Ted goes from knocking songs out of the park to playing throw away songs like The Unwanted Things and A Bottle of Buckie.

In fact, Ted may be a great guitar player, but what happened to the days of Tyranny of Distance, when he wasn't afraid to take a solo and show off just how damn good he is? The only time he even comes close to showing off his sick guitar chops is the explosion at the end of Annunciation Day, which is my favorite track on the album.

There are some really redeeming songs on here though, and in my mind the final trio of Some Beginner's Mind, Toro and the Toreador and C.I.A. really win me back in a big way.

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

It's good, but just not as consistent and coherent as some of his earlier stuff. It has a few weak songs, and it just doesn't flow that well. Not up to the standard of his previous work, even if certain songs are abolutely awesome. Also, the cover art is atrocious.
-Osloboditelj

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

bong it!

Anonymous (March 20, 2007)

pretty good cd.

GlassPipeMurder (March 20, 2007)

shoot, forgot the score.

GlassPipeMurder (March 20, 2007)

Well first off I'll say that Ted can do no wrong, so my opinion doesn't really mean anything, but I wanted to review this so I'll give my thoughts. This has some really really strong songs (Sons of Cain, Bomb. Repeat. Bomb, Bottle of Buckie, Who Do You Love?, World Stops Turning) but overall it doesn't touch Shake the Sheets, though I'm not sure anything could. It's quite a bit softer and some of the songs are in my opinion longer than necessary. So, great all in all, not quite as "punk" (except for Bomb) as Shake the Sheets so I don't like it quite as much, but still a really good cd.

GlassPipeMurder (March 20, 2007)

this is below modest mouse?! blasphemy!

dusticles (March 20, 2007)

I listened to this album driving back to school this weekend and it really is starting to grow on me. I did not like it at first, but I really dig the songs

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