Ted Leo (solo), Deathfix, Tiananmen Bear

Ted Leo (solo)

When Ted Leo won the 2010 Shorty Award for Best Twitter Feed in the Music category, he defeated some strong competition, including Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. What vaulted New Jersey native Theodore Francis Leo over such juggernauts? Many voters cited Leo's natural humor and conversational tone, which veered from quips encouraging vegans to opt for Tofucharist at their next communion, to commentary on watching Battlestar Galactica, to lashes at his intern.

While many musicians would crap out self-promoting blurbs and bland observations, Ted Leo was articulate and goddamn funny. What does his road commentary have to do with his live show, you ask? Why should you be sure to see him at Bottom of the Hill? Because the guy's a goddamn national treasure, that's why.

It's rare these days to find an American songwriter tackle political issues with such ferocity and specificity. The UK has Billy Bragg and Frank Turner, but who do we have? We have Ted Leo. This show is a solo acoustic set. The raucous shows with the full Pharmacists band are cathartic, sure, but the acoustic setting is where those barbed lyrics really emerge.

Leo's trio of acclaimed albums for the sadly defunct Berkeley label, Lookout!, will surely be represented: The Tyranny of Distance, Hearts of Oak and Shake the Sheets. We'll likely hear a few brisk numbers from his most recent disc, The Brutalist Bricks. And yes, there's a chance we'll hear a song or two from his as-of-yet unfinished musical about the history of US involvement in Guatemala, Red Bananas.

For a taste of his sharply observed words, look no further than the first lines of the new album's opening, "The Mighty Sparrow": "When the café doors exploded, I reacted too / I reacted to you / Papers in the wind a-waltzing, I was dancing too / My mind danced to you." It's a powerful start to a strong record, and another victory for the tenacious punk journeyman. And when Ted Leo wins, we all win.



Deathfix formed in 2009 after Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Rich Morel (Morel, Blowoff) met while touring in Bob Mould's band. Having discovered a shared affinity for the sounds of 1972 - particularly glam and progressive rock - they started getting together to work on music at Canty's warehouse studio space. Two years later, hoping to graduate the band from its studio-shut-in phase to its live ensemble phase, they recruited in multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo (Faraquet, Medications) and Mark Cisneros (Medications) to hold down the rhythm section. Both talented multi-instrumentalists and producers in their own right, Cisneros and Ocampo quickly started contributing their own riffs and arrangement ideas.

Deathfix is now a full-fledged band, with all four members contributing a share of the riffs, song arrangements, and production tricks. The band's self-titled 7-song debut will be released in early 2013.



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