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Ted Leo Returns, Solo And Reinvigorated, With 'You're Like Me'

Ted Leo will release <em>The Hanged Man</em> on Sept. 8.
Mindy Tucker
Courtesy of the artist
Ted Leo will release The Hanged Man on Sept. 8.

For about a minute, "You're Like Me" sounds as if it's being played in the next room — you could be hearing it through a wall, or maybe your headphones aren't plugged all the way in. Then, it comes roaring into focus: still compact and compressed, still just a guy playing most of the instruments in his bedroom, but just as thunderous as the wiry rock 'n' roll on which Ted Leo first made his name.

"You're Like Me" is the first single from The Hanged Man, due out Sept. 8. Leo financed the record by himself via Kickstarter and is self-releasing it under his own name — the first of his records to be so billed after a string of projects released under typographical variations on the name Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. (He's also still half of The Both, the band he shares with Aimee Mann.)

If "You're Like Me" is any indication, The Hanged Man promises to simplify and sharpen Leo's sound, which had broadened to encompass everything from white-knuckle punk to dreamier forays into dub reggae. Ted Leo has hardly gone away in seven years since The Brutalist Bricks — between The Both and his frequent podcast pop-ins, he's been easy to track down — but it still feels good to have him "back."

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)