The Lied-To's Embrace 'The Lesser of Two Evils' (album premiere)

Americana duo the Lied-To's' sophomore album is a darkly compelling dive into the realities that they've faced as single parents.

Few albums start off as ornery as the Lied-To's latest does, but they sure know how to make irateness sound good. The driving force behind The Lesser of Two Evils' jangly opener, "Cruel World", is exactly what its name implies. Singer-songwriters Susan Levine and Doug Kwartler took their cues from two influences—being fed up with the world and its many cruel facets, and the trademark attitude of Johnny Cash. With a release date just around the corner (11 May), the Americana duo is venting out life's frustrations with flair in the dark and all-too-relatable stylings of their latest full-length album.

Predating The Lesser of Two Evils, both members of the Lied-To's withstood bitter divorces, dealing with the physical, emotional, and financial results that came with them. Levine and Kwartler met a folk festival not long after, beginning to collaborate sometime after the dust of their recent turmoils had settled. As single parents to two children each, multitasking to keep their family life, music, and relationship boats afloat is as much an inspiration for their songwriting as it can be a true test of endurance.

Kwartler says in a press release, "You work, pay bills, take care of your kids, have a relationship, and deal with your past… Oh, and we also try to make music. The new record covers all that."

Levine follows this up by saying, "While the songs are not purely autobiographical, the emotional truths definitely come from everything we've been through."

Captivating in both its music and the themes that come with it, the duo's sophomore effort is an even deeper dive into their personal worlds. Influenced by some of the finest songwriters and poets to come from out of folk and country movements, the Lied-To's certainly know how to weave a dark tale in a way that still entrances.

Yet, in knowing that these songs are written with their primary inspiration having been Levine and Kwartler's own lives and the struggles that they survive on a daily basis, the bravery that they set forth with creating this record is even more enthralling. For every darkness, there is a silver lining, and oftentimes it begins with letting it all out. The Lied-To's remind us of this on The Lesser of Two Evils. Its darker themes tend to heal in more ways than one upon realizing this reminder—one that keeps us mindful of what we still have to mutually embrace and fight for in the face of adversity.

The Lesser of Two Evils can be pre-ordered via PledgeMusic.





Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".


The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?


Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.


Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.