Ted Leo + The Pharmacists play Friday, October 29, at the Gypsy Tea Room, with Just a Fire and Engine Down.
Michael Moore timed the release of his Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD to hit stores in the weeks leading up to the November 2 election so he could theoretically make a difference in the result. Though the impact of Shake the Sheets, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists' follow-up to 2003's Hearts of Oak, is even more theoretical (I don't have the sales figures of his last album in front of me, but I can guarantee they only have one comma), Leo appears to be employing the same strategy. Yet while Moore's film is full of specious rhetoric and big-picture polemic, Leo's album brings the election and the issues involved down to a more personal level. He admits his disillusionment on "The Angel's Share" but quickly sucks it up and fires off one call to arms after another. He speaks to the future president on "The One Who Got Us Out" ("Take it to the floor of Congress...Turn into the one who got us out") and to the people who will elect him on the title track ("Roll out and make your mark/Pull on your boots and march") and "Criminal Piece" ("Your peace and quiet is criminal/When there's injustice in the town"). But you know what? It's still a rock-and-roll album, and even if Leo's lyrics don't move your mind, his danceable blend of the Clash, the Jam and Attractions-era Elvis Costello will move something else.