Ted Leo and The Pharmacists Hearts of Oak

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Came across a used copy of Tyranny of Distance so I decided to test spin it, I love it and was thinking of splurging on Ted's latest Hearts of Oak. What is the consensus on Oak?

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Sunday, 7 December 2003 16:28 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I loved his previous record, Tyranny of Distance, so I was pretty hyped about it when it came out, and was a little disappointed in it, mostly because of the production, but it's grown on me. probably in my top 5 for the year.

Al (sitcom), Sunday, 7 December 2003 16:30 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

heh now i see that what you said is that you already have Tyranny. but anyway yeah, Oak is good, maybe not as good, but worth getting.

Al (sitcom), Sunday, 7 December 2003 16:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm with Christgau at the Voice in being disappointed by Ted Leo. Yea he has some of the most literate lyrics around but musically why is his Joe Jackson/Paul Weller singing over Thin Lizzy sound viewed as that much more appealing than any of a number of indie-pop or indie-rock acts out there? I like the (more twee) retro pop-rock of the Pernice Brothers better.

Steve Kiviat (Steve K), Sunday, 7 December 2003 16:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hearts Of Oak is wonderful. The reason why I prefer it over stuff like the Pernice Brothers is it's danceable, energetic, enthusiastic, full-bodied pop-rock backing up thoughtful, witty lyrics whose playfulness makes up for any pretentiousness. Ok, evidently some people are bugged by the fact that the guy uses his higher register so much, but I haven't heard "indie-rock" that grooves like this in a long, long time. If ever. I'm probably a bigger Pharmacists fan than Ted Leo fan, actually.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Sunday, 7 December 2003 17:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Plus he talks about booze and girls a lot.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Sunday, 7 December 2003 17:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I am not with Christgau on much of anything.

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Sunday, 7 December 2003 17:46 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, all the Ted Leo bashing is just contrarian nonsense. Hearts of Oak isn't as immediately appealing as Tyranny of Distance, but when all is said and done, I think it might even better. Tyranny is great, but I rarely break it out anymore, and I've been listening to Hearts of Oak consistently since it came out.

dieblucasdie (dieblucasdie), Sunday, 7 December 2003 18:41 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"The Ballad Of The Sin Eater" might be my favorite song of the year.

billstevejim, Sunday, 7 December 2003 18:54 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

ted is great. full stop.

simon 803 (simon 803), Sunday, 7 December 2003 19:12 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?," "Ballad of the Sin Eater," "Dead Voices," and "First To Finish, Last To Start" are top-notch, the rest of the record is a bit lacking. It's definitely better than most of the popular Pitchfork-approved bland indie currently going around, that's for sure.

Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Monday, 8 December 2003 00:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

eh, I think "Dead Voices" is one of the weak spots. but the 2nd half has really grown on me, I'm all about "Bridges, Squares", "Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead", "2nd Ave., 11AM" and "The Crane Takes Flight".

Al (sitcom), Monday, 8 December 2003 00:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

also, has anyone else noticed the shift from 'Ted Leo/Pharmacists' on all previous records to 'Ted Leo/The Pharmacists' on the "Tell Balgeary" EP and in concert listings for the recent tour?

Al (sitcom), Monday, 8 December 2003 00:46 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ok, evidently some people are bugged by the fact that the guy uses his higher register so much,

Yeah, this is true - one of the major flaws of the record is that he's singing off-key more than he needs to because he's singing in a weak falsetto on about half of the record. If the guy just stuck within his natural range, he'd sound so much better. There's no good reason for him to sing so awkwardly, he has a nice voice. It's frustrating and strange.

Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Monday, 8 December 2003 00:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I guess I'm just one of those saps Xgau referred to in his review who fall for that type of singing as a sign of passion or something. I think his voice is pretty fun.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 8 December 2003 01:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like falsetto, don't get me wrong. He does sing better than most of the current indie pack, with or without the somewhat annoying quirk.

Matthew Perpetua (Matthew Perpetua), Monday, 8 December 2003 01:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like it on top of a band that INSPIRES such flights of fancy I mean. His voice sure doesn't care that solo EP.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 8 December 2003 01:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

that should be "His voice sure doesn't carry that solo EP"

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 8 December 2003 01:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The yowl that punctuates "I'm a Ghost" is priceless. My personal favorite track on Hearts of Oak.

Kate Silver (Kate Silver), Monday, 8 December 2003 01:14 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

OTFuckingM Kate, that might be my number one musical moment of the year right there, always turn the car stereo all the way up when he hits that one.

Josh Love (screamapillar), Monday, 8 December 2003 06:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ted Leo live = fucking unbelievable. I don't get marking down music that is so full of conviction, intelligence, and creativity while remaining entirely accessible. It would seem like a rockcrit's dream.

Strangely, Thin Lizzy have completely passed me by, and I still haven't gotten around to checking out the vital elements of their catalog. Every time I read a Ted Leo discussion, I mean to get to Thin Lizzy-o, but then I forget. I'll make it a project today.

(And just because I said that Thin Lizzy passed me by, don't think that I didn't see Gary Moore at the Hammersmith Odeon for my first concert ever as a 14-year-old . . .)

southern lights (southern lights), Monday, 8 December 2003 16:41 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hearts of Oak is my favorite record of the year....Ted Leo/Exploding Hearts/New Pornographers were the super power pop triple threat in 2003.....Ted managed to make me nostalgic about at style of music (ska) I've never even liked in the first place!

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Monday, 8 December 2003 16:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Old curmudgeon me prefers the Jam's mod pop to Ted Leo's, the Beat and the Special's 2nd generation ska to Leo's, and well Thin Lizzy to Leo and band doing Lizzy. But I seem to be outnumbered here.

Steve Kiviat (Steve K), Monday, 8 December 2003 18:22 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'8 AM All Day' by Chisel is a fucking incredible record.

j fail (cenotaph), Monday, 8 December 2003 19:19 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i find his bad falsetto charming : (

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Monday, 8 December 2003 19:32 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i also fear i "identify" with some of the lyrics too closely.

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Monday, 8 December 2003 19:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

("you can never fully be considered a grown up until you stop identifing with indie lyrics about being drunk.")

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Monday, 8 December 2003 19:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hey, I never said he was better than the Jam and Thin Lizzy, but he's pretty great.

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Monday, 8 December 2003 21:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(a football team!)

raphael diligent (Cozen), Monday, 8 December 2003 21:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

And they're wearing football shirts on the sleeve as well! COINCIDENCE?

DJ Mencap (DJ Mencap), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 11:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Thanks to Jess's listing of it in his top ten of last year I bought this two days ago and much to my surprise, I'm loving it. I usually hate this retroish-indie sort of thing, but the hooks + storming rhythm section make it pretty much irresistable. Also his voice is really compelling and like Mr Harvell sez there's an maybe-not-that-comfortable bit of identification re lyrics going on too (jooi, how old exactly is Mr Leo?)(+ refs to Selby-Leeds railway line have got to be good, yes?).

Ricardo (RickyT), Monday, 26 January 2004 12:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

after everybody liking it I started recommending it to indierock types, & after everyone starting profusely thanking me for tipping them off, downloaded a few tracks.

um does it sound like non-quirky Game Theory to anybody else? but it's really nice.

etc, Thursday, 29 January 2004 06:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i'd have to guess he's probably in his early-mid 30s now?

strongo hulkington (dubplatestyle), Thursday, 29 January 2004 06:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I don't listen to this as much as I ought to. Probably haven't in a few months, actually. Choice songs: Ballad Of The Sin Eater, Bridges & Squares, Where Have All The Rude Boyzzzz Gone, I'm A Ghost.

Ian Johnson (orion), Thursday, 29 January 2004 06:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I love Chisel so much I can't bring myself to love "Hearts of Oak" like it should be loved. "Tyranny of Distance" is something else, though.

Donna Brown (Donna Brown), Thursday, 29 January 2004 07:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I just got back from a serious facerocking courtesy of Mr. Leo at the Bottom of the Hill here in SF, and hereby nominate him for Hardest Working Man In Show Business 2004 (Indie Rock Division). Bonus points for being punk enough to open his show with a solo cover of the Pogues' "Dirty Old Town".

Nick Mirov (nick), Thursday, 29 January 2004 09:17 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
wow, I just noticed the drummer counting in left channel on "The High Party"

Be sure to Loop! Loop, Loop, Loop. (ex machina), Tuesday, 25 May 2004 19:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
Is the Belgeary ep worth buying? I love the band so much not sure what Ted without them would sound like.

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Saturday, 14 August 2004 23:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I like it, but I'm a sucker for any solo electric guitar. It sounds knocked off; he's just banging the chords out for a lot of the songs, but's it's straight and solid. I like the occasional flubs; he's going for straight rhythm rather than precise notes, which is the same way I play, so maybe there's some sympathy there.

Most of all, it reminds me of how damn good Hearts of Oak is, though. 'Bridges, Squares' has made me all happy since I did a course in Urban Geography.

derrick (derrick), Sunday, 15 August 2004 05:58 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
I can't work out if I like this album that much. I love the opening track and then it all ends up sounding like what the Manics would have done had they been American and wanted to release Generation Terrorists.

dog latin (dog latin), Monday, 6 September 2004 13:39 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...
on the bus home tonight (hearing a 'sheets' track i think but i've been listening to 'hearts' now to reflect) it occurred to me that one thing i like about ted leo is how total the songwriting sounds: in lots and lots of the songs (not all the time), i get the impression that the different parts have been chosen as part of a total design for the song, not just filled in after some other important part like the lyrics or vocal or riff was settled on. i don't know if this is true but i'm thinking about it now.

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 12 May 2005 06:14 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i'd be interested to know what kind of control over the other people's input he had on 'hearts' and 'sheets', since he did some but not all of the bass and drum parts on 'tyranny'. (and one wonders how the ones he didn't do there came about - i.e., at what point in the writing process e.g. brendan canty or his brother or whoever entered in, how much of the song leo gave them.)

Josh (Josh), Thursday, 12 May 2005 06:20 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

twelve years pass...

To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the release of the critically acclaimed album, Hearts of Oak, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are embarking on a limited run of shows, performing two nights in each town.

On the first night, we’ll warm up with some recent songs, then perform the Hearts of Oak album in its entirety.

On the second night, we’ll perform a set-list that spans the almost twenty-year history of releases; from 1999’s self-titled LP to 2017’s The Hanged Man.

tickets went on sale yesterday, i got one for the first night in brooklyn, super stoked. always been my favorite album of his by a wide margin

lowercase (eric), Saturday, 10 March 2018 13:19 (nine months ago) Permalink

MAY 31 CHICAGO, IL Empty Bottle (sold out)




JUNE 12 BROOKLYN, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg

JUNE 13 BROOKLYN, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg

JUNE 15 BOSTON, MA Brighton Music Hall

JUNE 16 BOSTON, MA Brighton Music Hall





lowercase (eric), Saturday, 10 March 2018 13:23 (nine months ago) Permalink

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