Search - Jon Langford :: Skull Orchard

Skull Orchard
Jon Langford
Skull Orchard
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

Mekons ringleader Jon Langford delivers an infectious set of heartfelt rock on his first-ever solo album (not counting 1995's one-shot Johnny Cash album, released as Jonnyboy); more straight-ahead than the current Mekons a...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Jon Langford
Title: Skull Orchard
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sugar Free Records
Original Release Date: 3/20/1998
Re-Release Date: 1/27/1998
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Americana
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 615493000620

Mekons ringleader Jon Langford delivers an infectious set of heartfelt rock on his first-ever solo album (not counting 1995's one-shot Johnny Cash album, released as Jonnyboy); more straight-ahead than the current Mekons and largely eschewing the country twang of honky-tonkin' side band the Waco Brothers, Langford enlists backing from members of both groups (like Mekons drummer Steve Goulding) to forge his own, surprisingly accessible, solo sound. In fact, the disc is the most listener-friendly thing that Langford's done since 1993's "I Kiss Your Wicked Midnite" from I (heart) Mekons. Were it not for Skull Orchard's small label pedigree and the singer-guitarist's burrlike voice--a little too abrasive for drive time--revved-up rockers like "Trapdoor" and "I Am the Law" could be hit-bound. Lyrical allusions to Langford's hometown of Wales abound (and the cover sleeve, designed by the singer, features levitating Welshman Tom Jones), and in case you forgot that this is the cofounder of the highfalutin Mekons we're talking about, you also get a Gertrude Stein poem set to rock ("Butter Song") and a couple of gorgeous and enigmatic ballads as well as a larkish, drink-soaked coda. --Don Harrison

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CD Reviews

Literate Roots Rock
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Langford rewinds the spool a long way from the Mekons' recent "Me" with this remarkable record. If you loved "Rock n Roll" [and if you didn't, what's wrong with you?] this will knock you over. It's a mixture of the Mekons and mid-period Springsteen, played by The Clash. Two amazing Moby Dick-inspired songs. I can't recommend this too highly."
Sadly underrated work of smart pub-rock and social comment
Dan ( | USA | 11/16/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though I didn't really expect much from this record (I find the Mekons and Waco Bros. records fun but erratic at times), this is a truly stunning album. A stirring blend of Keith Richards/Joe Strummer rock and possibly Richard Thompsonesque folk, *Skull Orchard* doesn't take itself too seriously yet finds Jon Langford singing and playing passionately about his native Wales. Driving hooks and riffs abound, but they are nicely offset with ruminative choruses and quieter acoustic numbers as well. This record at times sounds as if it poured out of Langford's soul, it can be that powerful of a listen. There's excellent side-playing on it as well by John Rice on fiddle and Mark Durante on guitars. It really saddens me to think this record will never sell many copies. I don't get this excited about many records, please don't mistake this as a review done by a friend of the band or someone who regularly gives an album a "5" 'cause I dang sure ain't and don't. But if you have any interest in the Mekons, the Waco Brothers or well-made rock and roll that actually *says* something, this is simply a must-own."
We saw a better world just around the corner...
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 04/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Rarely have defeat and disillusionment been so effectively translated into art. Langford has perfected the pop craft first evident on MEKONS ROCK 'N' ROLL ('89). This is a concept album about the demise of the Welsh working class and the (temporary) demise of socialist dreams more generally. Langford rolls his Welsh "r"s with a vengeance, and sings metaphorically about whales and sailors and deep sea divers. If there was any justice at all, "Trap Door," "I Am The Law" and "I'm Stopping This Train" would have been blaring from radios everywhere, and you'll be blasting the sound for these tracks, believe me. "Penny Arcades" also deserved to be a hit, and it's actually pretty, not angry -- a lovely song with biting lyrics. (Hey, if "Nowhere Man" could be a hit, why not?)

Everything Jon Langford had done up to this point was preparation for this brilliant album, my personal favorite from 1998. It's full of the kind of great songs he did for the Mekons "RETREAT FROM MEMPHIS" ('94), another lost gem (see my 2/23/00 review)."