By Seth Colter Walls
By Brett Koshkin
By Spencer Wilking
By Christina Black
By Calum Marsh
By J. Pablo
By Phillip Mlynar
By Jenna Sauers
Hearts of Oak
Led by black Irishman Phil Lynott, blue-collar rockers Thin Lizzy pre-dated punk and were therefore rendered irrelevant by it; later, outsider punks Costello and the Jam crossed over into literate pop. The perfectionist Pharmacistsdrummer Chris Wilson, bassist Dave Lerner, and organist-pianist Dorien Garrymeticulously groom these roots, entwining snappy, reggae-cut rhythms with shamrock-ringed guitar treble. The nails-on-blackboard violin, droning bass, and carefree whistling of "The Crane Takes Flight" burst into fleeting chord-kicks and melodramatic melody; "Hearts of Oak" grooves like "Watching the Detectives" at twice the speed; and "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" jabbers gaily, with menacing undertones.
Leo, quick-witted readers will notice, dreams not of space or insects but a brotherhood of man. In "The Ballad of the Sin Eater" he travels the worldBelfast, San Sebastian, "Mother Russia," Damascus, Kigaliand, back home in Jersey (or is it Sierra Leone, he wondersshit, I thought I lived in a bad neighborhood), spits at his fellow Americans: "They hate you, they hate you 'cause you're guilty." Let him explain in "The High Party": "I'm looking at another day to find that I've got nothing to say/or I'm looking for another way to process what happened on that birthday"Leo was born on September 11. The "shitty war to fight for Babylon" he feared has, of course, begun. (Those Irish-folk touches sound all the more poetic for coming from a society beset by religious violence.) Who are we to blame him if he's nostalgic for last millennium?
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