Emboldened by a sold-out tour and a surge of interest in the States after the release of the documentary Revenge of the Mekons, the Mekons retreated to the fringes of Joshua Tree National Park and popular culture to record their new album Deserted.
The long-running, genre-hopping, impossible-to-kill British folk-punk collective summoned the forces of magic, fear, and superstition for an album of shifting sand Sturm und Drang. It is at once a distorted howl into the emptiness of space, as well as a quiet submission to the shimmering allure of a mirage. The heat and endless horizon can lead to madness or clarity, and while there is relief when the sun goes down, you know the deep chill is not far off.
Jon Langford said of the album’s origin:
“The idea was to go to a brand new studio our bassist the Baron had set up just outside Joshua Tree in Yucca Valley, CA and see what happened—we were in the middle of a hectic tour and had been attempting to write material first by email and then in the van… Most of what we wrote was abandoned after arriving at the Los Gatos compound. The desert is not unlike the ocean (just drier) and equally inspirational to old pirate punk rockers. The harshness of the environment, the bold and embattled plants and creatures that live there are metaphorical for us perhaps. Have you seen the desert after the rain?
There are deserts everywhere. We took time to ponder the vastness and the weirdness of the desert. Going to the country to get your head together is a ripe old rock cliché. We went to the desert to have our brains scoured… We went from one desert to another. A more hopeful place where we arm ourselves with spikes and endure.”
Vandoliers are the next wave of Texas music. The six-piece Dallas-Fort Worth group channels all that makes this vast state unique: tradition, modernity, audacity, grit, and—of course—size. Produced and recorded by Adam Hill (Low Cut Connie, The Bo-Keys, Deer Tick, Don Bryant, Zeshan B) at American Recording Studios in Memphis, TN, the band’s third album (and first with Bloodshot) Forever is a mix of defiant punk, rugged Red Dirt country, and vibrant Tejano. The full-length’s 10 songs blend emblematic rock ‘n’ roll with bold horns, violin, and a slather of twang reflecting where the band is from, where they’ve been and, eventually, where they’ll be headed. It’s regional and universal all the same.