Ted Leo and Radio 4 rock Irving and Maxwells. - Oh My Rockness

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Ted Leo and Radio 4 rock Irving and Maxwells.

June 23, 2005
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I'll admit it. Ted Leo almost ruined me. You see, I shared a small office with a friendly co-worker who liked to play Ted Leo at top volume... all... the... time. I mean, every single day, ten times a day, alternating evenly between Tyranny of Distance and Hearts of Oak. It got so bad that I thought if I heard that song "I'm a Ghost" one more time, I was seriously going to turn my unsuspecting co-worker into a permanent ghost, right then and there. Thankfully, right as I reached my power-pop breaking point, I serendipitously ended up switching offices. In the following weeks, I took some much-needed time off from Ted and, when I was ready, came back to him a much stronger and better person. Now I'm completely recovered and can listen to the whole Hearts of Oak album and sing along with no malice. Ted Leo's sugary rush of melodic hooks can save even a malcontent like me.

Ted Leo has been crafting some of the strongest punk-pop (not to be confused with pop-punk) songs for over a decade, first as a Chisel and now with some Pharmacists. His crystal clear tenor and distortion-free guitar speaks out against socio-political injustices and for personal activism and government responsibility. Sometimes Leo's songs may sound punk, or hardcore, or Irish-folk, or even soul, but his lyrics never stray from his "fighting the good fight" principles. It's as if Leo is saying, "clap and sing along with me, but stay conscientious while you do." Luckily, he is such a solid songwriter that it is tremendously easy to do both of these things. The guy seriously doesn't have a weak melody in his repertoire. No wonder he made my co-worker and me go off our respective rockers.

Opening is NYC's Radio 4, who also bring a politically charged atmosphere. Influenced heavily by the early 80's post-punk scene a la Gang of Four and Mission of Burma, Radio 4 play sweaty, danceable punk rock with beats, squeaks and loops. But like Ted Leo, a Radio 4 show isn't a leave-your-brain-at-the-door party either. Their songs speak out on everything from Guiliani's destruction of NYC to the evils of gentrification to overall government oppression. You can ignore their politics and just dance if you want, but you'll be missing out on the full Radio 4 experience. Oh and one more thing, Garden Variety rules!

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and Radio 4 play Irving Plaza, Sunday, June 26th, and Maxwells, Monday, June 27th.

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