The Pine Valley Cosmonauts

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Pine Valley Cosmonauts

The Executioner's Last Songs (Bloodshot) The Pine Valley Cosmonauts is another bastardization by founding Mekon and Waco Brother Jon Langford. A few years back, the Welsh-born Chicago resident fashioned the PVC to produce interpretive tributes to Johnny Cash and Bob Wills, but as the title to the group's third LP implies, this project has a much heavier theme. To raise money and awareness for the Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project, the themes here are murder, and the incomprehensible rationale of killing someone to teach them that killing is wrong. While Woody Guthrie's "Hang Knot" isn't included, selections by the Louvin Brothers, Hank Williams, Charley Pride, Johnny Paycheck, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Bill Monroe are. In addition to the PVC's already talented Langford handpicks, there are excellent assists here, particularly by the ladies. On "I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive," Rosie Flores channels the energy of Pasty Cline, while Diane Izzo breathes new life into a bouzouki-propelled version of Ralph Stanley's "Oh Death." Jenny Toomey's dreamy take on Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets," and Christa Meyer's voice is positively silken on the original "The Hangman's Song." Steve Earle also contributes a marrow-clutching rendition of perhaps the most famous death ballad, "Tom Dooley." While the subject matter is grave, the 18 tunes here are far from dirge like and depressing. Without a weak track in sight, The Executioner's Last Songs is killer. (Saturday, March 16, Mother Egan's, 7:30pm)


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