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Ted Leo is playing a priest in the new short film Main Blessings

Ted Leo in Main Blessings | courtesy of Femme Flash Films

Indie rock legend Ted Leo has taken up acting, and will appear in a forthcoming short film by Philly filmmaker Abigail Bruley. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as such a surprise, as the film evidently has music at its heart — Main Blessings promises to showcase some Tom Petty appreciation alongside its dark comedy, drawing on Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” for some lyrical inspiration. Leo appears as “Father Ted,” a jaded priest who is visited by the film’s recovering alcoholic protagonist Lars, played by fellow musician and R5 Productions founding member Josh Agran. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at Union Transfer, Ms. Lauryn Hill at BB&T, Bastille at The Fillmore, plus more

Ted Leo | photo courtesy of the artist

Ted Leo is back and bringing his trusty crew, the Pharmacists, with him to Union Transfer tonight. This past week, Leo smashed his seven year hiatus with the new record, The Hanging Tree, which was funded through the generosity of his fans via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Watch his latest video for “Can’t Go Back,” below, then find info on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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Ted Leo reinvents himself as a suave crooner in the “Can’t Go Back” video

Ted Leo | still from video

Jersey indie rock fave Ted Leo returns this fall with The Hanged Man, his first record in seven years and a pretty tidy summation of everything he’s done in his career.

As Kickstarter backers who got an early copy of the album know, it runs the gamut from abrasive anger to contagious joy, from the hooky power pop of The Pharmacists to the introspective folk of The Both. Lyrical themes are less rooted in the political furor of his past work and more in reflective introspection as Leo sings about getting older and realizing the changes in the world that come with age, but also feeling solace in that. And then there’s stuff we’ve never heard him do before. Continue reading →

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Ted Leo announces new album and Union Transfer show; shares “You’re Like Me”

Ted Leo | via Consequence of Sound

Ted Leo is back, and this time, he’s flying solo. Switching things up from serving as frontman for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, and as the other half of The Both with Aimee Man, Leo has announced an album titled The Hanged Man, which will be available on September 8th via him, Kickstarter, and his generous fans.

Yep, you heard me — no label here. Leo evaded corporate music land by entirely funding The Hanged Man through a Kickstarter campaign back in February. Now we’re seeing the fruition of those efforts with the first single off the album, “You’re Like Me.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ted Leo at Underground Arts, Family Volleyball at Goldilocks Gallery

ted leo
Ted Leo | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

We’ll take Ted Leo any way we can get him, whether it’s with Aimee Mann in The Both, with his band The Pharmacists or, like tonight, solo. XPN welcomes the Indiana-born musician to Underground Arts, where he’ll open for Husker Du frontman Bob Mould. There have been hints that a new Pharmacists album could be released this year, which would be the band’s first new material since 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here.

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Not Your Parents’ Christmas Show: Aimee Mann and Ted Leo bring tongue-in-cheek cheer to Union Transfer

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com
Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

Call me a grinch, but I was so ready to hate this show. Whatever, don’t judge me. Christmas crap just isn’t my thing, and despite all the talent due to be onstage Friday night at Union Transfer for The Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Show, when I found out from the two guys standing next to me (who by the way had come from New York to be there, having just seen the same show at The Town Hall the night prior) that this was gonna be upwards of 80% Christmas-themed-and-related music – christ, I was really starting to question my own judgment in deciding I wanted to cover this.

I mean this is what happens when your childhood idol writes “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” and it gets forcibly funneled and shoe-horned into your consciousness year over year at every store you walk into from Halloween to Martin Luther King Day. Yeah, I am mad, bro.

What the hell though – two songs into Mann’s and Leo’s set, I realized I was actually enjoying it. Continue reading →

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Just announced: Ted Leo opening for Lee Fields & His Expressions at Make Music Philly on June 21st

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

This just in: Ted Leo has been added to the Make Music Philly day closing concert on Saturday, June 21st at Penn’s Landing with Lee Fields & The Expressions. The second annual Make Music Philly day will make its mark on the City of Broetherly Love on the first day of Summer all over the city with free musical events. Leo was last seen here in Philly recently when he and Aimee Mann, The Both, headlined Union Transfer, and did a Free At Noon. The show is all ages and free. Go here to view the schedule of events for the day. Below, listen to a new song by Lee Fields & The Expressions and a classic from Ted Leo.

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A casual night of rock and conversation as Ted Leo and Aimee Mann’s The Both headline Union Transfer

The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Both | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

When Aimee Mann and Ted Leo took the stage Saturday night at Union Transfer as The Both, they started chatting away. Their banter throughout the night ranged from Quaker meetinghouses to Jeb Bush to Paul Stanley of Kiss. They actually had to stop themselves so they could start playing music. This familiarity, paired with their vast live experience, put them at ease with a crowd and made for a glorious night of music. Playing all 11 songs from their self-titled debut plus selections from their respective catalogs, Mann and Leo were a true delight.

Though coming from seemingly different musical spheres, Mann and Leo paired nicely. Switching off lead vocal duties, with Leo leading on songs like opener “Gambler” and Mann beginning “You Can’t Help Me Now,” they expertly interwove their voices. Their spacing on stage, with the great divide between them filled by drummer Matt Mayhall, allowed for frequent encounters in the middle, more in line with a guitar-and-bass handshake than punk jamming. But that makes sense, as Leo’s harder sensibilities are more muted with The Both.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Mann and Leo showered love on Philly itself. Before “Save Me,” Mann regaled the crowd with the odd tale of playing the song during the Liberty Medal ceremony for Hilary Clinton at the National Constitution Center last year. And they seemed very happy to remember opening Boot & Saddle and filming part of the video for the catchy “Milwaukee” there. And before they broke into the tune, they even riffed on a Philadelphia-centric rewrite.

Two other highlights were of differing calibers. There was the humor in someone calling for the Leo song “Bottled in Cork” and Mann and Leo deliberately misunderstanding the request. They first claimed to hear the call for actor Bud Cort, but that devolved to the more playful “Butt Court.” (And, for the record, when they did play “Bottled in Cork,” it rocked.) The encore kicked off with another grand gesture as The Both launched into “Voices Carry,” the 1985 ‘Til Tuesday tune that was Mann’s first major success. In introducing the song, she shared her excitement for Leo’s falsetto. It certainly worked as the penultimate song before their wonderful Thin Lizzy cover, “Honesty Is No Excuse.”

Nick Diamonds and Evan Gordon of Islands opened with a bizarre set of songs by Islands, The Beatles, Wilco and Sinead O’Connor. The Both will return to Philadelphia for a Free at Noon concert at World Café Live on Thursday, May 15.

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Stream new albums by The Afghan Whigs and The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo)

Photo by Piper Ferguson
Photo by Piper Ferguson

The Afghan Whigs and The Both (Ted Leo and Aimee Mann) are performing at WXPN’s annual music industry gathering, the Non-Commvention, happening May 14-16 at World Cafe Live. Both the Whigs and The Both have new albums coming out on Tuesday, April 15th. You can stream them each in their entirety here via NPR Music.

The Afghan Whigs are releasing their first album of all new material in 16 years, Do To The Beast, Fronted by guitarist and singer Greg Dulli, and longtime Whigs’ bassist John Curley, they’re joined by the Whigs’ current core players – guitarists Dave Rosser and Jon Skibic, multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson, and drummer Cully Symington. While original Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum does not appear on the record, there are numerous guest appearances, including Van Hunt, Mark McGuire (Emeralds), Usher’s musical director Johnny “Natural” Najera, Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys), Clay Tarver (Bullet LaVolta, Chavez), Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal), Patrick Keeler (Raconteurs, Greenhornes), Ben Daughtrey (Squirrel Bait), and Joseph Arthur. Ann Powers of NPR Music sums up the record succinctly, and writes:

Running with the album’s cinematic feel, Do to the Beast is in many ways Dulli’s . It conjures the 1990s in flashbacks, but its voices belong to men who’ve outlived the youth they had then. Dulli uses murder metaphors in “Matamoros” and “The Lottery,” and the supernatural enters into “Lost in the Woods” and “Royal Cream.” The real reason Do to the Beast resembles this year’s television preoccupation is that it gives us the voice and vision of a solitary, brilliant man in a constant tug-of-war with evil, as he imagines it — and as it still runs, though quieter now, in his veins.

Stream The Afghan Whigs’s Do To The Beast here.

Stephen Thompson, of NPR Music, writes about The Both:

Photo by Christian Lantry
Photo by Christian Lantry

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