As far as new records go, 2010 has totally blown it so far. New Hold Steady? Boring. New Against Me!? Insulting. New Arcade Fire? Who the fuck gave them all the Xanax?

Pitchfork may have given AF's The Suburbs an 8.6, saying it's "proof that Arcade Fire can still make grand statements without sounding like they're carrying the weight of the world," but I disagree. I love it when Arcade Fire sound like they're carrying the weight of the world, so this new stuff, this mild, not-splitting-at-the-seams-with-layers-of-orchestration stuff, just falls flat.

There has been one knight in shining armor, though. One band that's beat the 2010 blues, and that's Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The band's latest release, The Brutalist Bricks, is the best record they've released since Shake the Sheets in 2004. It's a stellar collection of garage-, punk-, and reggae-tinged pop songs, all delivered with Leo's immeasurable energy and sense of humor.

The band's new video for the song "Bottled in Cork" is just one more thing to heap on the love pile. It debuted last week on Funnyordie.com, and it features my comedian crush Paul F. Tompkins as a cocky weirdo talent agent who convinces Ted Leo and the Pharmacists to turn their songs into a Broadway musical, while hilariously mocking Green Day's recent foray into theater.

The whole point of this love letter is to remind you (in a long-winded, gushing way) that Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are playing the Vera Project on Wednesday, September 8, and you should go. The band is obviously on a winning streak. And it's not like you need to save your money to see Arcade Fire in the giant, terrible-sounding Key-Arena anyway. recommended

Recommended All-Ages Shows

Fri Sept 3: Slayer, Megadeth, Testament at WaMu Theater, 7 pm, $40/$45.

Support The Stranger

Sun Sept 5: Pavement at Paramount Theatre, 8 pm, $32.

Wed Sept 8: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Past Lives at the Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $12/$13.