Pictured above: Mr. L at the recent Blurt day party, which he curated, in Austin during SXSW, taken by Susan Moll.
Here Be Monsters, the new album by Jon Langford & Skull Orchard, finds the band scanning the outskirts of popular culture, its title born of medieval cartographers’ term for the dragons, sea serpents, and other mythical beasties that reside beyond the boundaries of the known universe. Earlier today, The New York Times premiered the full album stream a week before its release date on April 1st. Check it out HERE.
“There’s a lot of explosive stuff on the record,” Langford said. “I don’t know if I was fashioning songs to exploit that, but I definitely wanted to make a band album. It’s not just me strumming an acoustic guitar, sitting ‘round in my basement.” Jon continued, “It just turned into a really great band. We existed and it seemed like a time to get everybody fully involved rather than it just being me.”
Langford plots a clear-eyed, sharp-elbowed course through such far-flung subjects as alternative hierarchies and astronomy, perpetual war for perpetual profit, the culture of detachment, middle age, fatherhood, fame, and the fleetingness of love. Songs like “If You Hear Rumors” and the rather glorious power ballad, “Sugar On Your Tongue” are provocative and playful, with the hard-charging Skull Orchard kicking out genre-agnostic rock ‘n’ roll as rich and surprising as anything found in Langford’s far-reaching canon. Added sonic color comes courtesy of New Orleans’ Bonerama Horns, who contribute big brass to “What Did You Do In The War?,” while Leeds’ own Barkley McKay (The Waco Brothers, The Pretty Things) adds Hammond B3 licks to the cheeky “Lil’ Ray O’ Light.” A seething, stem-winding broadside, “Drone Operator” suggests that raining death from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles named “Reaper” and “Predator” might create a few “boundary issues” in their joystick-wielding, computer-jockey pilots. It reaches its own frontier with “Don’t Believe,” a declaration of true faith penned and first performed by Langford’s longtime friend, musician/filmmaker/punk icon Viv Albertine.
“She’s a pal,” says Langford. “I just thought it was such a great song, it said a lot of things that really fit with my subject matter for this album. It’s kind of like a star map of things not to believe in alongside a star map of things that are solid and tangible and real. ‘I believe in corrugated iron’ – just fantastic.”
Best known for his work in The Mekons and the Waco Brothers, Langford has been a leading pioneer in the assimilation of folk/country music into punk rock since the genre’s first evolution over 30 years ago. Also a renowned and prolific visual artist, he will include individual artwork images specific to each track on the album, marking this release as the most complete unification of his dual creative careers.
For the upcoming seventh annual Record Store Day on April 19, he will release an exclusive 7″ titled Days & Nights which will feature two brand new studio tracks, “Days & Nights” along with B-Side “Here’s What We Have.” Langford also recently released a FREE EP via Noisetrade that includes demo tracks from both releases and the studio version of the first single from Here Be Monsters, “Mars.”
April 3 – Cambridge, MA @ Atwoods Tavern
April 4 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House
April 5 – Rehoboth Beach, DE @ Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats
April 6 – Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club & Cafe
April 7 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
April 8 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird
April 9 – Newport, KY @ The Southgate House Revival
April 14 – Berwyn, IL @ FitzGerald’s w/ Dave Alvin
April 15-17 – Chicago, IL to Portland, OR @ Roots on the Rails w/ Dave Alvin
April 18 – Portland, OR @ White Eagle co-headline w/ David Olney
April 19 – Seattle, WA @ The Stables
April 20 – Vashon Island, WA @ The Cone Gallery (Free Acoustic show with art)
April 21 – Port Townshend, WA @ The Cellar Door
May 1 – New Orleans, LA @ Le Mieux Gallery (Free show)
May 17 – Portland, ME @ Last Church on the Left
May 18 – Peace Dale, R.I. @ Roots Hoot House Concerts