Jon Langford & Skull Orchard: Old Devils (album)

Jon Langford‘s new album was out for nearly two months before I gave it a listen, now I wonder why I waited.  Backed up by Skull Orchard, Langford does not disappoint with Old Devils (his 4th solo release).  Listen to Getting Used to Uselessness (Bloodshot mp3 link).

This Welsh ex-patriot, now a stall wort of the Chicago music scene, is one of Bloodshot Records best gems.  From his early punk days with the Mekons, to his post punk country with the Waco Brothers, on through all the various musical ramblings of The Sadies and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and into and through his solo works; you can always count on Langford’s acerbic wit and social spirit.

Listening to this album, one gets the impression that it was designed for vinyl, there is a definite divide in styles between the first half and the second half of the album  (I bought the album as an mp3 download and have no idea if it was released on vinyl).

It seems like the band was trying different styles of music on the first half, from guitar rock to surf rock to rockabilly, with a ballad thrown in for good measure.  The second half of the album, while still firmly in the rock genre, is more countrified.

My favorites from “side 1” include  the catchy “1234Ever” and the self-effacing “Self Portrait”.

The ethereal “Haunted”, the spunky “Flag of Triumph”,  and the  wandering “Death Valley Day” highlight “side 2”.

My favorite overall is the song “Pieces of the Past”, where Langford calls out privateer, and fellow Welshman, Captain Morgan.

This album shows that the 54 year old Langford is not slowing down.  I, for one, am glad for that.  I hope he is back in the studio with the Waco Brothers, it has been 5 years since their last album of new songs.

You can listen to clips and buy the album at Amazon.  My favorite Langford solo album remains 2004’s concept “All the Fame of Lofty Deeds.”


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