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Tournament of Tunes:
Built to Spill vs. Ted Leo

The Elite Eight of the Tournament of Tunes has commenced. From here on out, I'll reproduce the results here on the blog to highlight and better expose the proceedings.

Built to Spill - Untrustable Part 2 [WM]
Ted Leo - Loyal to My Sorrowful Country [mp3]

Here we have a real battle of extremes: density versus simplicity, epic versus folk song, personal versus political, long versus short, meticulous studio production versus one-off recording. Whichever song prevails will depend on wherever my tastes happen to be tending at the moment.

On the one hand, I love the simplicity of Ted Leo—just him in a studio, banging away at his electric guitar, howling against what our country has become during the past six long years, doing his own small part to fix what’s gone so wrong. There’s little doubt of what he’s singing about, or where his sympathies lie.

But on the other hand, I also love the epic ambition of Doug Martsch and Built to Spill—the nearly nine minutes of running time, the unhurried pace, the lush and meticulous production, the tempo shifts, and the ambiguity of the lyrics, which seem to be about questioning one’s religious faith. However, despite having plenty of time to clearly deliver his narrative point, it’s unclear whether Martsch is telling the person he’s addressing that he or she needs faith, or whether it’s perfectly alright to do without—whether he’s evangelizing or saying live and let live.

Both songs have their strong and distinctive merits. But at this precise moment in time, I find myself more engaged by the mental image of a lone Ted Leo in a shadowy studio, quixotically but clearly railing against the powers that be, than by Doug Martsch leaving things opaque and fussing over details during post-production. Leo’s immediacy wins out, and “Loyal to My Sorrowful Country” continues its idealistic quest.

Winner: Ted Leo - Loyal to My Sorrowful Country

(As always, brackets here, play-by-play here and previous recaps here.)

July 13, 2006 in Music, Music: ToT 06 | Permalink


Woo hoo! One of my favorite Ted Leo songs (not one of my favorites from BTS).

Posted by: Julie at Jul 13, 2006 12:00:06 PM