Ted Leo revealed earlier this year that he’s releasing the long-awaited followup to 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks (Matador) this year, and now details and the lead single are here. The album is called The Hanged Man, and he’s self-releasing it on September 8 (he funded it on Kickstarter). Lead single “You’re Like Me” is the kind of melodic indie-punk ripper that Ted’s always done so well, and you can listen to it below. Ted spoke about the new album in a new Stereogum feature:
It’s hard to avoid an obvious statement at this juncture. Leo is an unabashed fan of the Clash, and on first listen to the album, one had to wonder if this was his version of London Calling or Sandanista!, a sprawling opus that pushes his songwriting in new directions. There are hook-filled punk blasts like “Run To The City” and “Anthems Of None,” but the album also includes painfully intimate ruminations like “Lonsdale Avenue,” symphonic, Beatles-indebted art-pop songs such as “Gray Havens” and “The Nazarene,” and even “Used To Believe,” a power-pop number in his signature mold, ends in a torrent of multi-tracked, ELO-reminiscent harmonies, many courtesy of songwriter Jonathan Coulton.
He’s been itching for a while to move beyond the standard three- or four-person guitar-band songs he made his name on, without quite returning to the outré sounds he started his solo career with. One of the reasons he never even owned an acoustic guitar until recently was that was once self-conscious about presenting himself as a singer-songwriter and wanted “to be thought of like a punk band.” But that sort of thing doesn’t bother him anymore.
“I really wanted to let things breathe as a songwriter. I wanted to do the things that I never had the time or was always a little maybe… scared is the right word?” he says. “It’s hard to say, because if you go back to Hearts Of Oak, for example, there are keyboards and organ and melodica and a lot of acoustic guitars and other things. I think I’ve always tried to push the edges of that, but I guess what I wanted was to not have any edges at all to it.”
He recorded 27 songs total, and there were three versions of The Hanged Man in play at various times. One leaned toward the punk and power-pop that represents “what people would traditionally think I do,” and one leaned toward the exploratory art ballads he used the studio to craft (or as he puts it, one that was “completely the slow, dark, weird stuff”). He settled on a happy medium between the two for the actual album. (His friend Aimee Mann, who’s heard the album, says it has a dash of “mad scientist” about it).
Read more of the very in-depth and often tragic story — which includes Ted opening up for the first time about being molested by his piano teacher at 10 years old and the death of his daughter — here.
As previously mentioned, Ted recorded most songs with longtime Pharmacists drummer Chris Wilson (who’s also currently in Titus Andronicus and Open City), and it features contributions from Aimee Mann, Jonathan Coulton, Jean Grae, and comedian Paul F. Tompkins.
Ted also announced a tour, including Philly, DC, Allston, and more. All dates are listed below.
Ted Leo — 2017 Tour Dates
09/14 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
09/15 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
09/16 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
09/17 Allston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
09/19 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
09/20 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
09/23 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
09/24 Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit Hall
10/23 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
10/24 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
10/25 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/27 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
10/28 Austin, TX @ Mohawk
10/31 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
11/1 San Diego, CA @ Casbah
11/3 Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
11/4 San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s 365 Club
11/6 Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
11/8 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
11/11 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club