Best of 2004: #14 -- Ted Leo + Pharmacists Shake the Sheets
I like Ted Leo, because he's a Notre Dame alumnus, and I'm a huge Fightin' Irish fan. However, simply being an ND grad doesn't guarantee greatness in and of itself, as evidenced by such self-important douchebags as Regis Philbin and Phil Donahue. You see, Leo does something much more significant with his platform than interviewing diet gurus for an audience of hippo-sized housewives. He transmits his politically-charged missives through Marshall stacks with conviction and showmanship.
After hearing just a couple of tracks on Shake the Sheets, it becomes readily apparent that Leo is a blue state guy. But while his distain for the Bush administration is quite obvious, he manages to convey his message directly, without the type of heavy-handed bludgeoning issued by the likes of Michael Moore. And even though Leo has a definite agenda behind his music, he still brings the rock. This time out, he forgoes the varied instrumentation and eclectic genre mixing of previous albums in favor of straightforward guitar-bass-drum rock. With Bono shifting his focus from relieving third world debt to lining Steve Jobs' pockets, Ted Leo's brand of socially-conscious rock is needed now, more than ever.