Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Lord, this boy's good. Ted Leo's quick, muscular guitar-pop is just the kind of rock-saving sound my younger self used to believe was bound to be huge any day now. It isn't, of course, and that's a goddamned shame. But that don't mean it won't feel colossal when the man rocks Houston. He bashes out great speedy tunes without seeming antic; his writing's more pop than punk, but the sound buzzes and crunches with toughened melodies. As fine as Leo's singing is -- his voice yowls, always scraping into falsetto -- it's his guitar that gets the tunes over. In the space of one typical song, it's broad and brash, then it's a rip of bee-sting arpeggios, then a cascade of mighty rock-hero chords (minus any rock-hero fussiness). On record, the hooks snag and don't let up; live, you're just his bitch.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alan Scherstuhl is film editor and writer at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
Contact: Alan Scherstuhl