Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
529 W Girard Ave
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Ted Leo is one of the finest songwriters of our generation, even if it’s not entirely clear what generation that is. Starting in New York Hardcore with Citizen’s Arrest, making the ‘90s safe for power-pop and Weller-esque hair with Chisel, then singing our turbulent lives like we were smarter than we were with The Pharmacists, and most recently providing equal parts sweetness and solace with Aimee Mann as The Both, Ted never let us down. And now, seven years after The Brutalist Bricks, he has a new solo album. And it’s wonderful.
The songs on The Hanged Man, recorded at a home-studio-in-transition in Wakefield, RI, with Ted playing almost all the instruments, are some of the finest and most finely wrought of Ted Leo’s career. Ted describes the time working on the album as one of “personal desolation that felt fallow but was actually very fertile” and, indeed, lyrically, The Hanged Man is suffused with hope of sorts but crushingly heavy. The concerns addressed, whether personal trauma or the national disaster we’re all currently existing in, matched with the range and vitality of the songcraft is inspiring, even uplifting.
The Hanged Man offers the sharp bursts of skinny tie pop-punk fury one would expect from Ted—and even these feel streamlined like never before—but they are offset with an adventurousness in both tone and structure. The intention was to upend expectations but, on songs like the bookends of “Moon Out of Phase” and “Let’s Stay On The Moon,” the intention never gets in the way of the result. There’s no strain of effort in songs that are unlike anything Ted has done previously. The Hanged Man is a career high, born through industry soul sickness, nausea-inducing crisis, and a talent that feels like secular grace.
Appearing in various forms in the Philly DIY music scene since 2015, the post-punk trio Control Top is a tribute to persistence and evolving through doing. Amid periods of dormancy, stylistic forays and lineup changes, singer/bassist and founding member Ali Carter was determined to keep the project going after the release of the band's demo tape. In 2017, she recruited drummer Alex Licktenhour (HIRS, Get Better Records) and guitarist Al Creedon (Bleeding Rainbow, I IM EYE MY). Licktenhour was searching for a new project to get involved in, while Creedon was rediscovering electric guitar after years of playing noise and electronic music. Together, they forged a clear identity, blending diverse tastes to create music for a time beyond despair and naïveté. Covert Contracts--their debut full-length recorded, produced and mixed by Creedon--is underway and will be out later this year.
That’s the thing with post-punk. There’s so much a band can do under its umbrella. The Slits and Devo, Glenn Branca and Siouxsie and the Banshees--these artists are all wildly different yet found a home in a genre that resists definition. Control Top gets inspiration from these wide-ranging pioneers yet remains true to the post-punk ethos of anti-imitation and the drive to create a new remedy to modern ills. The urge to resist conformity is stronger than ever, and the need for urgent, relevant music is just as strong.