- The Mekons ride into Pats in the Flats on Saturday.
For every snarling youth who spits, "Punk is dead" in 2007, there's some wise 50-year-old, who was there when it all went down. And he understands something: Rebellion never dies; it just changes.
Forming in Leeds, England, in 1977, the Mekons took this knowledge -- that change is the only constant -- and ran with it for the last 30 years, mutating from atonal chord-bashing to country twang and back again.
With Natural, their first full-length of new material since 2002's OOOH! (Out of Our Heads), the Mekons once again shed their aural skins, revealing a new aesthetic that's as simple as a lone minstrel strumming in the woods. "We didn't really know we were making an album when we started," admits vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jon Langford, explaining how the Mekons' new sound emerged organically. "We just retreated to the quietest corner of the English countryside and played long, rambling instrumentals."
The moist air the Mekons breathed in while wandering that countryside quietly snuck into Natural's 11 tracks. The twisting guitars, meditative drums, and saccharine violins sound warm and damp enough to grow moss.
The band also birthed some of the darkest lyrics of its career. "We were thinking about the usual stuff: war, death, drugs, trees," says Langford. "Then it all went pear-shaped. Obviously, the current [American] regime has soured our whimsy."
The Mekons have always molded their strange brand of British country punk to the times. As a result, the sound of these rock sages exploring new dimensions while maintaining a sense of rebellion is proof that punk lives and grows.