In his three-and-a-half decades as the hardest working man in punk, rock, and roots, Mekons/Waco Brothers/Three Johns co-frontman and multimedia visionary Jon Langford has established a lofty standard of brawny melodicism and personally and politically charged songcraft, building a formidable songbook on a foundation of stubborn humanism and a finely honed sense of the absurd. Here Be Monsters, the Brit expat's latest under the recurring Skull Orchard banner, embodies all of the qualities of Langford's best work, emphasizing the bittersweet, introspective edge that's become increasingly prominent in his work in recent years. The latter quality, underlined by the complementary contrast of Langford's hearty wail and the evocative vox of actress/comic Tawny Newsome and violinist Jean Cook, is particularly affecting on "Summer Stars," "Mars," and "Sugar on Your Tongue," while the starkly acoustic "If You Hear Rumours" arrives as a timely anthem. The charmingly ramshackle "Lil' Ray o' Light" may be the closest that Langford has ever come to explicit autobiography. (12mid, Rowdy's Saloon)
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