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2:37
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2:58
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4:22
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1:57
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3:46
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3:24
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By C. Mack on March 10, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For Ted Leo fans, "Shake the Sheets" is a good comparison starting point for "The Brutalist Bricks", both are straightforward political punk albums. Leo's foray into unabashed pop music on "Living With The Living" seems like a distant memory for most of this album as the guitars and political lyrics dominate.

The album opens up with the excellent opening single "The Mighty Sparrow." The song shows off Leo's singing abilities, manages to be catchy without an actual chorus and contains two false endings, all in a little over two and a half minutes. Next, "Mourning In America" is a blistering rocker in typical Leo fashion with the driving guitars leading the way. "Ativan Eyes" and "Even Heroes Have To Die" come next, both a little slower paced than the two opening tracks, but both are fun, if not terribly memorable. "The Stick" follows, it is as loud and fast as anything Leo has done, a power packed track coming in under two minutes.

The track that is perhaps in the "Living With The Living" mold more than any other on this album, "Bottle in Cork", is also, surprisingly, one of the best. The sound is light and breezy, reminding me of more than a few tracks off of their last album, and it is very enjoyable. The rest of the album continues switching between faster ("Woke Up Near Chelsea", "Where Was My Brain?") and slower ("One Polaroid A Day", "Bartomelo and the Buzzing of Bees"). Over this stretch, "Tuberculoids Arrive in Hop" deserves note for being an extremely slow, stripped-down piece with some interesting vocal parts, not typical Ted Leo at all. "Gimmie the Wire" is a great rocker, one of the standouts of the album. "Last Days" finishes things off, it is another strong tune on an album full of them.
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Format: Audio CD
In his anthemic, chorus crushing song, "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward," Billy Bragg sings, "Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is/I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses." Within the narrative of the song, the question is posed to Billy during the last call moments at a pub, and it carries a sense of drunk cynicism. It is also the question that Ted Leo, a musician deeply influenced by Billy Braggs punk and politics, has been posing to himself, both in song and interviews, for most of his career. Can an artist deliver the complications of politics through the streamlined joys of a pop melody? It's a question that every artist who trades in choruses and hooks that go straight for the mainline must ask. After all, if politics, as the philosopher once said, are an ideology that separates the individual from his or her real condition, then can the pop music, with its inherent brevity and disposability, perform the work of impacting a listener's consciousness enough to make these conditions known?

At times Ted Leo has suggested in interviews that pop music can't accomplish this kind of consciousness shifting, but, rather, all it can hope to do is preach to the converted. This tension between wanting to craft a political anthem within the confines of pop music shifts to the forefront of his latest album, The Brutalist Bricks, and is perhaps best exemplified by the song "Ativan Eyes." The song begins with a call to action, sprinkled with a little Karl Marx, but, before even the first chorus, abruptly shifts into the idioms of a love song: "The industry's out of touch / The means of production are now in the hands of the worker / But I just want to be touched by your expert hands.
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Format: Audio CD
I thought Hearts of Oak was really great but the last few releases were lacking something, but not this one. This is a great listen all the way through and all the songs stand out by themselves. I compare Ted to a modern day Elvis Costello or Graham Parker and this could be his This Years Model or Squeezing Out Sparks.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased "The Brutalist Bricks" and "Shake the Sheets" because Ted Leo is going to open for Aimee Mann in our city this fall. I wanted to acquaint myself with him, and as you know, you can find anything for (practically) free on Amazon! Leo is extremely talented, but fair warning: His music rarely slows down. You'd better have lyrics in front of you the first couple of times or it's doubtful you'll like him (or appreciate him). I'm not quite to the "like" part yet, but if you have any music appreciation experience, there's plenty to listen for. This man is a gifted composer of what I think of as "intelligent punk". He's not angry, though . . . this is thoughtful and good-natured on HGH.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
The opening line of The Mighty Sparrow - "when the cafe doors exploded" - aptly describes what is happening to you while you listen to Brutalist Bricks. This album bursts with rocking energy from start to finish. It gives the illusion of loose, seat-of-the-pants indie punk, but make no mistake - this material is tight - well crafted, well played, and well produced. The songs are relatively short and brimming with hooks, which you will find yourself humming if you ever stop listening to the disc.

Highlights: The Mighty Sparrow, The Last Days, Even Heroes, Bartomelo, and Ativan Eyes.
Comparisons: Elvis Costello and early Police.
Suggestions: Buy it now!
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