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click to enlarge Ted Leo and the Pharmacists  - Living with the Living  -  -  -  - Touch & Go  -  - Sounds like: A punk rocker with range -  - Short take: Rebelling as only a 36-year-old - can -  - On his new album Living with the Living, Ted - Leo is pissed. And in a time when most indie punk - records either revolve around girls or sound like teenage - rebellion against a 10 p.m. curfew, it's freakin' - refreshing. Running with the theme of real-time politics - that he set with 2004's Shake the Sheets, Leo - goes beyond the left-wing nudging of STS to - straight-up fist-shaking with a megaphone. But, as he - says in the song "La Costa Brava," "everyone needs a - Sunday," and there are a few breath-catching breaks in - here. "The Unwanted Things" slows down with a - borderline-generic reggae beat, while "A Bottle of - Buckie" puts Leo's signature Irish tinge on the album. In - all, Living with the Living is a mature and much- - appreciated rebellion.  Steve Kline
  • Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

    Living with the Living

    Touch & Go

    Sounds like: A punk rocker with range

    Short take: Rebelling as only a 36-year-old can

    On his new album Living with the Living, Ted Leo is pissed. And in a time when most indie punk records either revolve around girls or sound like teenage rebellion against a 10 p.m. curfew, it's freakin' refreshing. Running with the theme of real-time politics that he set with 2004's Shake the Sheets, Leo goes beyond the left-wing nudging of STS to straight-up fist-shaking with a megaphone. But, as he says in the song "La Costa Brava," "everyone needs a Sunday," and there are a few breath-catching breaks in here. "The Unwanted Things" slows down with a borderline-generic reggae beat, while "A Bottle of Buckie" puts Leo's signature Irish tinge on the album. In all, Living with the Living is a mature and much- appreciated rebellion. Steve Kline

click to enlarge Joss Stone  - Introducing Joss Stone  -  -  -  - Virgin  -  - Sounds like: Sultry, soulful, hip and calculated -  - Short take: Going neo soul, with mixed results -  - Considering you never get a second chance at making a - first impression, Joss Stone's audacious attempt to - restart her career with this latest release comes across a - bit odd. When she first arrived on the scene as sort of a - female British version of Jason Mraz, with her polished - White Stripes cover ("Fell in Love with a Boy"), Stone was - cast as a cute pop singer with good taste, at the very - least. Now she's "mmm-mmming" her way through - soulful '70s sounds that could easily be at home on the - Boogie Nights soundtrack. The truth is, Stone - has the sass ("Headturner") and style ("Bad Habit") to pull - off the transformation. Unfortunately, she strives  and - fails  to come off like Lauryn Hill, who makes a guest - appearance.  John Benson
  • Joss Stone

    Introducing Joss Stone

    Virgin

    Sounds like: Sultry, soulful, hip and calculated

    Short take: Going neo soul, with mixed results

    Considering you never get a second chance at making a first impression, Joss Stone's audacious attempt to restart her career with this latest release comes across a bit odd. When she first arrived on the scene as sort of a female British version of Jason Mraz, with her polished White Stripes cover ("Fell in Love with a Boy"), Stone was cast as a cute pop singer with good taste, at the very least. Now she's "mmm-mmming" her way through soulful '70s sounds that could easily be at home on the Boogie Nights soundtrack. The truth is, Stone has the sass ("Headturner") and style ("Bad Habit") to pull off the transformation. Unfortunately, she strives and fails to come off like Lauryn Hill, who makes a guest appearance. John Benson

click to enlarge Hot Rod Circuit  - The Underground is a Dying Breed -  -  -  - Immortal   -  - Sounds like: The night The Get Up Kids - jammed with Sunny Day Real Estate -  - Short take: Punk lovers need to revv this motor -  - Before the "TRL" generation started drooling over today's - schlock punk,Hot Rod Circuit seemed to be on the - cusp of Vans Warped Tour fame. It had two great - Vagrant releases under its belt and some lint in its - pocket. Now the Alabama quartet is back with a new - label and a new album, The Underground is a Dying - Breed, which sounds as though it fits squarely into - today's college and alt-rock radio scene. The urgency in - "Battleship" is palpable, while "6-8" features the kind of - clashing guitars that Weezer used to produce. In some - respects, the emo tag may apply to Hot Rod Circuit - but then again, that label is so convoluted today, who - the hell knows what that even means.   John - Benson
  • Hot Rod Circuit

    The Underground is a Dying Breed

    Immortal

    Sounds like: The night The Get Up Kids jammed with Sunny Day Real Estate

    Short take: Punk lovers need to revv this motor

    Before the "TRL" generation started drooling over today's schlock punk,Hot Rod Circuit seemed to be on the cusp of Vans Warped Tour fame. It had two great Vagrant releases under its belt and some lint in its pocket. Now the Alabama quartet is back with a new label and a new album, The Underground is a Dying Breed, which sounds as though it fits squarely into today's college and alt-rock radio scene. The urgency in "Battleship" is palpable, while "6-8" features the kind of clashing guitars that Weezer used to produce. In some respects, the emo tag may apply to Hot Rod Circuit but then again, that label is so convoluted today, who the hell knows what that even means. John Benson

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