What exactly does an ale-addled, agitprop, borderline-Communist punk of Welsh heritage have to say about country music? In Jon Langford's case, a hell of a lot — and if you haven't been listening, you've been missing one of the great contemporary songwriters, regardless of genres. When he's not deconstructing iconic images of honky-tonk heroes and heroines — his scratched and screwed visual art is legendary — Langford puts the fire in the belly of the Mekons' art punk and Chicago's insurgent country scene, from the Waco Brothers to the Pine Valley Cosmonauts. His own band, Skull Orchard, gives Langford a chance to personalize his politics; the group's latest album, Old Devils, finds virtue in vice and hope in both hopelessness and hard-driven country rock rhythms.
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