Results for Ted Leo

interviews

Ted Leo

This week, Jim and Greg are joined by singer-songwriter Ted Leo in front of an audience at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago. Leo gained fame in the early attention with his tuneful yet political approach to punk rock with his band the Pharmacists. But it's been seven years since Leo's last album. In that time, he formed a successful collaboration with Aimee Mann as The Both (who were Sound Opinions guests in 2014). But his family also suffered emotional and financial crises, which inform his ambitious new album, The Hanged Man.

The album's expansive sound is the product of being able to tinker alone in his new home studio in Rhode Island. No longer on a label, Leo crowdfunded the album through Kickstarter and released it himself. Ted Leo discusses how his personal turmoil affected his music and how his fanbase gave him a lift. He also gives an intimate solo performance of songs from The Hanged Man.

Go to episode 624

The Both

Ted Leo and Aimee Mann seem like an unlikely pairing: he's punk, she's folk, but as The Both, the duo make beautiful music together. And inspiration for forming this“mutual admiration society”came from some strange places including Twitter and a shared love of comedy and Thin Lizzy. And the project seems to have been liberating for both musicians—freeing them up from their typecast constraints of“political rocker”or“singer-songwriter.”Ted and Aimee perform songs from The Both's self-titled debut, including a celebration of "Milwaukee" and its utterly bizarre "Bronze Fonz."

Go to episode 463
specials

Touch and Go Records

This week Jim and Greg wanted to take a look at one of the music industry's most important independent labels: Touch and Go Records. Touch and Go recently turned 25 and celebrated with a three-day bash at Chicago's Hideout Block Party. Over the course of the show, you‘ll hear why Jim and Greg wanted to focus on this modest Chicago label. You’ll also hear from the founder himself, Corey Rusk, and a number of the label's artists, including Scott McCloud from Girls Against Boys, Janet Weiss from Quasi (and formerly Sleater-Kinney), Ted Leo, David Yow from Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard and recording engineer and musician Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac fame.

Touch and Go's founder Corey Rusk is known not just as a tastemaker with an incredible ear for talent, but also as one of the most honest businessmen in the biz. This is what separates Touch and Go from other labels, major and independent alike. Rusk's business model, which doesn't shy away from the Internet and which relies merely on trust and a handshake, has kept it going for 25 years, helping it to outlive its peers. Labels like Twin/Tone in Minneapolis, which launched The Replacements, SST in California which launched Black Flag and Hüsker Dü, and I.R.S. in which launched R.E.M. and The Go Go's, all emerged in the early '80s after punk's mainstream explosion and before alternative's reign. However, Touch and Go is the only one of the bunch not only to stay in business, but to do so successfully and independently.

The best way to understand the label's significance is to sample some of the music. You'll hear these songs in our short-but-sweet montage of Touch and Go music:

  1. Killdozer, "Hi There"
  2. Girls Against Boys, "Kill the Sexplayer"
  3. The Dirty Three, "Doris"
  4. Jesus Lizard, "Mouth Breather"
  5. TV on the Radio, "Dreams"
  6. Butthole Surfers, "Fast"
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Art Star"
  8. Calexico, "Cruel"

Touch and Go has put out a lot of music over the past quarter century, but Jim and Greg both manage to pick their single favorite T&G tracks. Greg goes first and chooses "Stage 2000" by Seam. Touch and Go is often thought of as the place to go to for loud, hard-edged punk music, and that is certainly true. However, their roster is actually quite diverse, and there are a number of bands like Seam, who are making beautiful, soft, melodic music.“Stage 2000”is on Greg's favorite Seam album, The Problem With Me. That album was recorded with Chicago producer Brad Wood, best known for producing Liz Phair's classic Exile in Guyville.

Jim's Touch and Go pick is "Kerosene" by Big Black off their 1985 album Atomizer. Though Atomizer was initially released by Homestead Records, Big Black moved to Touch and Go a year later, and the label reissued the band's entire catalog. So we'll let Jim slide on this one — especially since no one has been as closely associated with Touch and Go as Big Black founder Steve Albini. Albini came to Chicago to study journalism at Northwestern, and Jim can hear this sensibility in his lyrics. Songs like "Kerosene" are essentially sensationalistic tabloid stories backed with thrashing noise-rock.

Go to episode 43
reviews
The BothThe Both available on iTunes

The Both The Both

Unlike other collaborations, Jim and Greg have reviewed in recent memory, the coming together of two of indie rock's most esteemed stars, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, finally feels like a collaboration that works. Mann is probably best known for her Grammy and Academy Award nominated songs in director Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia, while Leo has been the leader of the Ted Leo and The Pharmacists for the past fifteen years. Known collectively as The Both, the two singer-songwriters have released a record that Greg thinks does a remarkable job of creating a sound all it's own instead of just sounding like Leo and Mann took at the wheel of every other song. Leo's impressive guitar playing perfectly underscores Mann's emotional melodies throughout, making The Both a Buy It for Greg. Jim thinks the potential to bring together Mann's penchant for heartbreak and Leo's political idealism is there, but the two eschew all of that in favor of an album that amounts to just a decent collection of pop songs. Jim expected more, but likes enough of what he hears to recommend listeners Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 437
Living With the LivingLiving With the Living available on iTunes

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Living With the Living

Next up is a review of Living With the Living by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. This is the band's fifth album, but first to be released by Touch and Go Records. Greg thinks Leo is full of energy and enthusiasm, but explains that the singer/songwriter wears his musical influences on his sleeve. It's not difficult to hear the reference points of The Clash, The Kinks and The Jam. Jim agrees, and explains that where the music falls short is when it goes the reggae route. He doesn't think Leo and the band are very good at that style, but adds that The Clash weren't that great at it either. Neither Jim nor Greg can recommend Living With the Living as a whole, but both critics say that Leo and the band give a great live show. The album gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 68
lists

The Best of 2007… So Far

Jim and Greg just couldn‘t wait until the end of the year to start picking their favorite albums, so they’ve decided to name their 2007 mid-year best.

Go to episode 81