Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Brendan Kiefer
A different and arguably the most famous Dylan Thomas piece of writing more aptly applies to the long-standing career of the Leeds-West Yorkshire band The Mekons, than does the piece here that Jon Langford articulates. It's that one about not going gently into that good night. They've endured 30 years in the biz and released 16 albums without real category. They're mostly a punk band, if only for the distinct pleasure they take in being something so far left of homogenized. They dare to be as different as they can be and their latest record, this year's Natural, is just such an example of the continuation of that mantra/mindset. It's an odd dissertation on the world as they see it and on the very procedure of storytelling. "Dark Dark Dark," a song first heard on Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis's "Sound Opinions," is a frightening opener that implants a thought that a forest of trees can gain life and functionality and come after you with murder and blood loss on its mind. It can do you in, once and for all, that forest can. Maybe we're just paranoid over here, but it sounds like a real sinister spookfest, a warning, a song holding a flashlight under its jutting chin in a dark room. It gets weirder from there, and just as interesting, as characters and metaphors fly like feathers and sparks, popping thought bubbles, growing new fears and ideas all along the way. Langford reads from a Thomas piece - a ditty about the oddly-formed making and the preservation of remembrance. There were the days that smelled like galoshes and the very genuine belief and mystic mental proof that once the kid could fly, really fly. The repeated line that in the thesis is, "The memories of childhood have no order and no end." Langford and the impeccable choice of background accompaniment makes the piece a brilliant companion to the album.
"The Mekons Fan Site":http://www.mekons.de
"Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records":http://www.touchandgorecords.com