The pride of Bloomfield, New Jersey, the indefatigable Ted Leo plays sinewy post-punk loaded with urgent hooks and punctuated with gnarly electric guitar. Leo's torrent of storytelling lyrics suggests early Springsteen, maybe Billy Bragg or Graham Parker on the pub front. Like Bragg's, much of Leo's music is virulently (if not overtly) political. If he's not taking on big issues like war, as in the brutal "Bomb Repeat Bomb," from his latest, Living with the Living (Touch and Go), then it's grainy anthems about average folks trying to endure "in this land of grand decay." There's a touch of ska on Living, sonic references to the Clash, the Brit reggae band Steel Pulse, and the Kinks ("Army Bound" borrows directly from "Victoria"). But it's all ardent Ted Leo, cranking the amps, searching for truth in the rushing words, proving there's better Living through chemistry. With A Sides and His Mischief. 18+.
Fri., Oct. 12, 6 p.m., 2007