Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, with Duke Spirit

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will never make it in pop music. They have no fear of searing guitar solos, odd breaks and meters, bass leads or, come to think of it, any damn thing in the musical vocabulary that might serve their song. The Pharmacists have built their reputation on not only their frenetic shows but also their considerable sophisticated musicality, which contains an indefinable Kinks-like touch of the dramatic and a Who-quality power. This is a V-8 band on a mini-compact frame, light on its feet and ready to smoke you at the starting line. The epic pop rocker "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone" says it all.

At first blush, Duke Spirit lead singer Liela Moss appears to be the sort of gal for whom the term "pixieish" was coined, but when the garage-rock roar of her band cranks up, there's nothing cutesy about her. Whether beating a tambourine into submission, manhandling a mike stand or just letting loose her deep, husky wail, Moss commands the stage like a born rock star.

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Chris Neal
William Michael Smith