Roger Knox & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts: “Stranger In My Land”

Roger Knox & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts: “Stranger In My Land
(Bloodshot BS 179)
Release date: 2013

The Land Where The Crow Flies Backwards
Stranger In My Country
Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home
Took The Children Away
Arafura Pearl
Brisbane Blacks
Wayward Dreams
Scobie’s Dream
Ticket To Nowhere
Warrior In Chains
Streets of Tamworth
Home In The Valley


Great reviews from and Cool Album of the Day that we don’t want to pull quotations from, they deserve to be read in full.

“When it’s released in early February, this will become the most important country music release of 2013. Why?…This is country music wrought bruised and aching from the dustbowl that is Australia’s Outback.  This is Roger Knox bringing an Aboriginal voice to what amounts to Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, Woody Guthrie and Paul Robeson gathered at the billabong singing protest tunes. These are down-under songs of racial alienation, displacement, the march to civil rights and a collective voice in the wilderness proclaiming that they will not be moved. It is vintage Nashville sung like it should be; honestly, matter-of-fact and evocative as hell…Elegant, suffused with meaning and essential.” –

“Part travelogue, part National Geographic special, and part crash sociology course, Stranger in My Land is surely to be the most important album you will listen to all year, and might just be the most important album of the decade… a five on a five scale listen.” – Cool Album of the Day

“Down-under civil-rights songs addressing feelings of racial alienation and making pleas for justice, all couched in the plainspoken language of vintage Nashville.” – Chicago Reader

Stranger In My Land is a collection of songs originally written by Aborigine artists who were Knox’s peers and predecessors; some tunes previously recorded but difficult to find as well as several unrecorded, handed-down folk songs (which without this recording, could have been lost forever).  It is powerful and moving material, heartbreaking and hilarious, downtrodden and uplifting, suffused with longing, alienation, resilience and hope; universal themes arising out of largely unexplored context. It possesses the urgency of a Alan Lomax field recording, but with a spirit that remains relevant in today’s world.

Country music crossed the equator in the kitbag’s of US servicemen in WWII and magically struck a chord with a voiceless and near invisible aboriginal population. Soon American cowboy songs and honkytonk classics were retooled to describe rugged outback lifestyles and the migration from country to city. Turns out, you can’t beat this music as a vehicle for telling tough tales and the Aboriginal Country & Western Songbook is peppered with drinking songs and prison songs; songs that yearn for justice and for home; songs of alienation and the loneliness of the outsider. Humor, resignation and outrage stalk a superficially familiar musical landscape that’s been re-populated with stockmen, bandicoots, wallabies, porcupines, grog-drinkers, pelicans and policemen.

Stranger In My Land features guest vocals and instrumental performances from Bonnie Prince Billy (“Scobie’s Dream”), Kelly Hogan (“Blue Gums,” “Took The Children Away,”) Dave Alvin of X, Blasters (“Land Where The Crow Flies Backwards”), Sally Timms (“Home In The Valley”),  Andre Williams (“Stranger in My Country”) and perhaps the last known recording from Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers (“Ticket to Nowhere”).  All this star power is backed The Pine Valley Cosmonauts and the Sadies.

Also included in a album is a lovely insert by Langford that gives an apt history of the songs, artists, and people behind this fragile, yet empowering music. This is an album about a man and a people’s struggles in their own place of origin, and the experiences in a journey that such a complex life path can take. Knox is the conduit for these stories and these songs, but this isn’t ancient history and these songs are not museum pieces.

The place names and characters are different, but the humanity remains common. In making Stranger In My Land, Roger Knox closes the circle on a strange journey that takes the music and stories of his people all the way around the planet and back to America.

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Rosie Flores: Girl of the century

Jon Langford & Rosie Flores: Girl of the century
Bloodshot 162t)
Release date: 2012, Dec 4th


This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’
Halfway Home
I Ain’t Got You
Dark Enough At Midnight
Little Bells
Get Rhythm
Last Song
You’re The One
This Cat’s In The Doghouse
Whose Gonna Take Your Garbage Out?
Girl Of The Century


With Rosie’s off the charts vivacity and dexterity, Girl of the Century delivers with a handful (and sleeveful) of spades.

With over half a century of hard roots-rabbling between them, Rosie Flores—the Rockabilly Filly, and  Jon Langford—head MekonWaco Brother and conductor of the Chicago-based collective the  Pine Valley Cosmonauts, blast a sonic contrail stretching from Texas to Wales, from the dusty hill country to the dusky fetter cairns (that’s an obscure British Isles reference, sorry about that). These two long-celebrated musical forces, one with her cowboy boots firmly in the dance halls and the other with his work boots sloshing around puddles of beer in the pubs, come together for Girl of the Century, an album of spirited and soulful romps through the back roads of American music.

Recorded live-in-the-studio hot with the Cosmos, Girl of the Century crackles with effusive energy and references a wealth of influences and source material. Anchored by the crack rhythm section of Tom Ray ( Neko CaseDevil in a Woodpile) on bass and Joe Camarillo (Waco BrothersDollar Store) on drums, the Cosmos find a groove and lock it in, be it the suave blues of Memphis Minnie’s “Chauffeur,” the Bob Wills smooth swing of the Paul Burch tune “Little Bells” or the wild R&B with a rockabilly flair of Ruth Brown’s “This Little Girls Gone Rockin’.”  Throughout, Pat Brennan’s stone-cold honky-tonk piano and John Rice’s count-in fiddle keep the boots firmly on the rail.

Rosie’s front and center vocals have never sounded better.  From her saucy growls to kittenish sass to clarion Ronnie Spector smarts, there’s a versatility here she’s only hinted at on previous albums. Smooth, cheek to cheek balladry like “Last Song” (a Jon Langford song) and “Dark Enough,” a torch number so swampy it’s easy to imagine her draped over a mossy piano, sashay against a more playful and powerful side when she gets her pop rocks off Maggie May-ish blue-eyed soul style on the Langford penned “Halfway Home” or the Little Sister-era Elvis rocker “This Cat’s in the Doghouse” co-written by Patricia Vonne. For a little slice of heaven from the Conway and Loretta playbook, look no further than the old school duet with Langford “Whose Gonna Take Your Garbage Out?”
It’s all Texas twang and blustery, rolling rrrr’s.

Given that this is a Rosie Flores album, though, one expects guitar heroics. With Langford’s chunky punk roots, John Rice’s clean lines and Rosie’s off the charts vivacity and dexterity, Girl of the Century delivers with a handful of spades. There’s revved up runs straight outta Sun Records, the exaggerated wah wah on the Jimmy Reed/Yardbirds rocker ” I Ain’t Got You,” and urgent straight up rock and roll in the Everly Brothers’  “You’re the One.” Check out the jolt she provides on the oft-covered Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm.”

This album is a gas, friends.  We’re ever so happy to bring these two super cool artists together.

– See more at:Bloodshot

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard: Old Devils

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard:
Old Devils

(Bloodshot 175)
Release date: August 2010

1. 1234 Ever
2. Book Of Your Life
3. Getting Used To Uselessness (listen)
4. Self Portrait
5. Luxury
6. Pieces Of The Past
7. Haunted
8. Flag Of Triumph
9. Death Valley Day
10. Old Devils
11. River Of Ice
12. Strange Ways To Win Wars

Bonus Tracks (via Vinyl only):

1. Amazing things we’ve done
2. Danger Rock


Jon Langford: guitars, vocals
Alan Doughty: bass, piano, vocals
Joe Camarillo: drums, vocals
Jim Elkington: guitar, mandolin, piano

Jean Cook: violin
Barklay McKay: piano, rgan
Tawny Newsome, Sally Timms, Andre Williams: additional vocals
Bonerama Horns: Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, Greg Hicks


LP contains download card with digital version of album, plus two songs not on the CD and extra artworkContinue reading

Wee Hairy Baesties : Holidays gone crazy

Wee Hairy Baesties :
Holidays gone crazy
(Wee Beatz 02)

Release date: 2008


1. Belly Button Blues
2. Here Comes My Shadow
3. Yellow Snow PSA
4. The Tail Of The Night Before…
5. Dinosaur Christmas
6. Pumpkinhead
7. Tidy Up! PSA
8. Wee Scary Beasties
9. Holidays Gone Crazy
10. Eat Your Greens PSA
11. Bury Me In The Sand
12. The Lonely Vampire
13. Tummy Trouble PSA
14. Jug Rag


Jon Langford: guitars, perc. vocals
Sally Timms: vocals
Kelly Hogan : vocals
Rick Sherry: harmonica, washboard, vocals, kick drum, jug, kazoo
Joel Paterson: lapsteel, guitar, vocals, kazoo, drums
Tom V. Ray: bass, ukele

Order: / Bloodshot

Sponsored by WBUG, a radio station that only insects can hear, The Wee Hairy Beasties’ first concert was at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. The band was under the mistaken impression they would be playing to the animals, so all their songs were about animals. The children that showed up seemed to enjoy the show a great deal as well, so a CD was concocted. The resulting Beastie music on Animal Crackers is mostly for kids, but if used wisely, shouldn’t bug the adults either.

The Beasties, CYRIL the KARAOKE SQUIRREL Jon Langford—Mekons, Waco Brothers, Pine Valley Cosmonauts), MARJORIE the SINGING BEE (Kelly Hogan), MONKEY DOUBLE DIPPEY (Sally Timms-Mekons) and Devil in a Woodpile believe that music for kids need not be unlistenable! Their dance-with-ants-in-your-pants blend of back porch blues, hoppity country and wiggly old-timey swing is bound to please any animal, child or adult within earshot.

The Beasties are Back! On their debut album, Animal Crackers (Bloodshot), Wee Hairy Beasties brought you frisky tunes about fuzzy things. Now Chicago’s motley kiddie band crew come to your house with a covered hot dish of brand new songs for the holidays when they release Holidays Gone Crazy on November 4, 2008 through their new label Wee Beatz, a subsidiary of Carrot Top Records. On Holidays Gone Crazy, you’ll find familiar, scary fun on Halloween with “Wee Scary Beasties” and “Pumpkinhead”, and you’ll even meet some far out holidays that may only exist in Beastieland, like “Dinosaur Christmas”. So roll back the rug, put the crispy onions on the green bean casserole, and set up the kids’ table in the basement—let’s go!

Wee Hairy Beasties—stews up a diverse bunch of new tales: creepy lullabies, nighttime stories about lonely vampires, and sunny day action tunes about playing in the sand. There’s an ode to everyone’s ever-present pal, your shadow, a cautionary tale about what lies deep in your belly button (!), and a super-rocking punk jumper about a veggie-patch dweller named Pumpkinhead! Check out the Wee Hairy Beasties’ PSA’s too: did you know that ice cream for breakfast is GOOD FOR YOU? Wee Hairy Beasties will set you straight! There are songs with Shangri-Las finger-popping flavor, fresh seat-of-the-pants harmonies, a musical nod to Slade (yes, Slade!) and some very special guests: actual kids singing along in wide-open ,b-i-n-g-o style! And, as always, Devil in a Woodpile’s bright and bouncy instrumentation—washboard, slide guitar, thumping upright bass, clarinet and harmonica—percolates like the best Harman-Ising cartoon bug band that ever was.

Holidays Gone Crazy is a rollicking good time for big and little folks alike—folks who know that spiders are cool, that the dark can be fun, and that dinosaurs love Santa Claus just as much as the next guy. Once again, Wee Hairy Beasties bring you songs that give kids (and their parents) credit for having a brain and knowing how to wield it! (Though to be fair, this record is also very good for forgetting about your brain and just dancing around in your underwear!) This album proves that there’s a fun holiday for every time of year!

Katjon Band

Jon Langford &Kat Ex:
Katjon Band
(Carrot Top Records 042)

Release date: Sept. 2008


Do you
Machine Gun
Bad Apples
Crackheads beware
Hey you don’t love me
Red Flag


Jon Langford

Kat Ex

Downloads from Carrot Top:

Bad Apples / Do you

Sites Katjon Band on Myspace
Carrot Top Records
In Europe: Order by The Ex mailorder

Jon Langford of The Mekons and Kat Ex of The Ex share a history outside their duo, KatJonBand. Both members of the 70s punk-rock squad, each faced their share of successes and failure in two of the biggest bands to emerge from the scene. Through a series of mishaps and shared friends, Jon and Kat join forces to bring their self-titled release.

Musically and lyrically, KATJONBAND, is a tough album; stripped down, basic and to the point. The Mekons and The Ex have always been explicitly political bands, so it’s no surprise that the Iraq war, globalization, class, greed, patriotism and kinky sex all rear their ugly heads in these bone-bare, blood-boiling anthems. With Kat on drums and Jon on guitar, the duo shares the microphone, summoning Jon’s gruff Welsh pirate howl and Kat’s clear-as-a-bell Swabian soar.

Order CD

Back in the mists of time, before Kat drummed her way into THE EX and Jon dusted himself off after the disastrous demise of The Mekons mark one, Jon stumbled upon a small, damp studio known as Joke-rent-a-cow studio (or something like that) on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Dolf Planteydt, who ran the studio also worked as the soundman for Holland’s least compromising and most physically demanding punk- rock collective, The Ex. Jon then met Terrie Ex from the band and went on to produce several CDs for them throughout the 80s and 90s, often guesting on drums or banjo when the mood struck him. While The Mekons toured Holland, The Ex let them stay in their squat, leading the two bands to tour together and eventually become label-mates at Chicago’s Touch & Go Records.

Celebrating their 25th anniversary at Amsterdam’s Paradiso in November 2004, The Ex invited Jon to MC the weekend’s events, offering to back him up for a set of his own. When he arrived in Amsterdam they forgot their offer and since nobody else knew any of the songs he wanted to play, they decided that their drummer Kat would back up Jon. She played drums with Jon’s art-rock metal trio, The Three Johns, back in 1985 when their drum machine went on strike, but this promised to be something different: just the two of them with no-set-list, no rehearsal and a packed house! Kat drums like nobody else on the planet and while the gig was seat of the pants in extremis, the crowd went mad and offers of gigs started trickling in. The KatJonBand was born…

A brief tour of festivals in Austria and Germany in 2005 led to plans for recording in Chicago the following year. Writing songs on the spot at Chicago’s North Branch studio, Jon found matches on guitar for the melodies in Kat’s poly-rhythmic improvisations. Fleshing the songs out across the Internet, Kat completed them whenever she could manage to get back to Chicago. KatJonBand played The Hideout Touch & Go Block Party in September 2006, cramming in a day at the studio and another when the Ex came back to play The Empty Bottle later that fall.

Two of the few bands who continue undaunted and unfettered since the heady days of 70s punk-rock, neither The Mekons nor The Ex ever split up, so (obviously) they’ve never reformed for any pathetic punk rock nostalgia tours. Back in the 90s they made a single together; one side included The Ex playing The Mekons’ Keep On Hopping and on the other The Mekons covered The Ex’s Crap Rap. KatJonBand is only the most recent collaboration between these two legendary groups and stays true to the pioneering spirits of both.

Danbert Nobacon: The Library Book Of The World

The Last Drop In The Glass 4:42
Straight Talk (Meet Frank) 3:54
Rock ‘N’ Roll Holy Wars 3:19
What Was That? 3:14
Singe My Bald Head 1:19
Wasps In November 4:22
Red Mist 3:54
Nixon Is My Dentist 3:39
Tarin Kot 5:24
William Mulholland Meets Andrew Marshall 1:46
Christopher Marlowe 3:28
Three Barrels Full 4:13
Jamestown 2007 4:07
Fossil Cigarette Burns 1:23
Information Storm 3:45

Bloodshot Records – BS 141

Wee Hairy Beasties

Wee Hairy Beasties
(Bloodshot BS 136)

Release date: Oct 24, 2006

1.Wee Hairy Beasties (3:00)
2.Flies on My Tears (1:39)
3.Animal Crackers (2:07)
4.Ragtime Duck (2:10)
5.Housefly Blues (3:08)
6.A Newt Called Tiny (0:16)
7.I’m an a.N.T. (2:40)
8.Road Safety Song (1:59)
9.Cuttlefish Bone (2:47)
10.Glow Worm (1:08)
11.Buzz Buzz Buzz (1:49)
12.Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel (4:43)
13.Toenail Moon (3:55)
14.Lightnin’ the Turtle (1:36)
15.Wee Hairy Beasties Reprise (0:29)
plus Enhanced CD Video “Toenail Moon”

Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel (Jon Langford): gt, perc, voc
Marjorie the Singing Bee (Kelly Hogan): voc
Monkey Double Dippey (Sally Timms): voc

and Devil in a Woodpile:
Rick Sherry: harm, washboard, voc, clarinet, drum, jug, kazoo
Joel Paterson: gt. lap steel, voc, kazoo, drums
Tom Ray: bass

Produced By Jon Langford with Ken Sluiter

Bloodshot says:

The young will thrill to the sing-a-long tunes about ducks, squirrels, flies, newts and turtles, while the music geek in all of us will marvel at the dexterous harmonica and National steel guitar playing and super excellent vocals. All will benefit from the important lessons about road safety, keeping flies off your supper and the perils of karoake.

The Wee Hairy Beasties theme song even has a special dance. Every time the Beasties go “Wee!,” you climb up on your Mom or Dad’s shoulders and kick your legs up as high as you can–but make sure you hold on tight and if Dad’s wearing a wig hold onto his ears!

“Kids’ hootenannies don’t get any more fun, or parent-friendly, than this rootsy collection. A-.” Chris Willman Entertainment Weekly

“14 tunes lively enough to please even the most fidgety youngster, and which are also witty, swinging and guaranteed to make the grown ups in the room tap their toes…the wordplay is silly enough to make children giggle, but smart enough to still appeal to the more mature listener…and all the musicians brought their A Game.” Mark Deming All Music Guide

“This troupe rewrites the rules of the animal kingdom, delivering a barrel-full of fun against a collection of highly toe-tapping music that rarely quits… kids of all ages can grow an appreciation for music that doesn’t require the the need of a net or a purple dinosaur.” Today’s Parent

“At our reviewers’ household, the album was an immediate hit: ‘My daughter starts dancing like crazy when you put it on.'” Chicago Magazine

“What it would sound like if Where The Wild Things Are came to life as a song.” Songs: Illinois

“Make no mistake, Animal Crackers is a kids’ album. But it’s made with love and enthusiasm and will engage kids while making the parents smile. And if you had any affinity for The Bottle Let Me Down, you shouldn’t hesitate at all to get this album. Definitely recommended.

About Wee Hairy Beasties

Sponsored by WBUG, a radio station that only insects can hear, The Wee Hairy Beasties’ first concert was at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The band was under the mistaken impression they would be playing to the animals, so all their songs were about animals. The children that showed up seemed to enjoy the show a great deal as well, so a CD was concocted. The resulting Beastie music on Animal Crackers is mostly for kids, but if used wisely, shouldn’t bug the adults either.

The Beasties, Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel Jon Langford—Mekons, Waco Brothers, Pine Valley Cosmonauts), Marjorie the Singing Bee (Kelly Hogan), Monkey Double Dippey (Sally Timms-Mekons) and Devil in a Woodpile believe that Kids music need not be unlistenable. Their dance-with-ants-in-your-pants blend of back porch blues, hoppity country and wiggly old timey swing is bound to please any animal, child or adult within earshot.

“The Beasties have an eclectic sound, and a remarkable chemistry among them. Musically, this ensemble is having way too much fun, but because they are such accomplished musicians, they are able to put forth a fun and relaxed, yet tight and technically strong album.” The Lovely Mrs. Davis

Jon Langford: Gold Brick

Jon Langford:
Gold Brick
(ROIR – RUSCD 8296)

Release date: March 9th, 2006

Little bit of help
Workingman’s palace
Invisible man
Buy it now
All roads lead back to me
Anything can happen
Gold brick
Salty dog
Gorilla & the maiden
Dreams of leaving
Tall ships

John Rice (guitar, mandolin etc.)
Pat Brennan (keyboards)
Alan Doughty (bass & vocals)
Jean Cook (violin)
Dan Massey on drums

Produced By Jon Langford with Ken Sluiter

Devilishly crafted and scarily melodic GOLD BRICK is Langford’s third solo album and finds him back with R.O.I.R. the pioneering New York label that released The Mekons classic New York album in the late 80s. Collaborating with a band that includes Pine Valley Cosmonauts John Rice (guitar, mandolin etc.) & Pat Brennan (keyboards), Waco Brother Alan Doughty (bass & vocals), Jean Cook (violin) and Dan Massey on drums, this is probably Langford’s most consistent and coherent recording to date.
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