In the not-all-that-rarified world of Indie Rock, there are two guys with enviable streaks of artistic consistency — The New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman and the Pharmacists’ Ted Leo. And Leo has a bit of an edge by virtue of his slightly longer tenure. Leo played with a variety of interesting Punk bands at the dawn of his career two decades ago before churning out anthemic Pop/Punk with Citizens Arrest and Chisel in the mid-to-late ’90s. His solo career in 1999 spawned a new band christened the Pharmacists and for the past dozen years Leo and his fluctuating trio/quartet have gone from strength to strength, evolving into one of the most passionate, frenetic and politically aware Punk outfits in the business.
Over the course of their last nine albums, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have established an astonishing string of recording successes, including the nearly unassailable trifecta of 2003’s Hearts of Oak, 2004’s Shaking the Sheets and 2007’s Living with the Living. Along the way, Leo has been yard-sticked against some of the most brilliant songwriters of the modern era (Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson) and he has become increasingly concerned with cultural and political topics.
Last year’s The Brutalist Bricks, the band’s debut album for Matador Records, was an amazing case in point as well as a departure, as Leo and the Pharmacists conjured up a soundtrack of blister-inducing Pop/Punk, pinwheeling Reggae and fist-pumping Indie Rock while simultaneously tilting at political/social windmills in their usual manner and atypically bemoaning the need to do it.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is one of those bands that fans desperately wish would come out with an album every couple of months, but we can’t all be Robert Pollard, can we? Oh, wait, three Indie Rock guys with enviable streaks … and Ted Leo is still short listed with some of the best and most consistently creative artists around.
TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS play the MPMF Indie Summer Series on Friday, July 29 with guests TWEAK BIRD and BELLE HISTORIE. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.