Jon Langford

Gold Brick

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Despite hailing from Great Britain (Wales, to be exact), the 2006 solo release by longtime Mekons leader Jon Langford, Gold Brick, is a prime slice of Americana. The twangy strains of alt-country sound as if they were straight out of the South of the U.S., but Langford's accent is a dead giveaway that this is not your average, or ordinary, release from the aforementioned genre. Although he's issued solo releases on a semi-regular basis since 1995, Langford's label, ROIR, calls Gold Brick "the proper follow up to 1998's 'Skull Orchard'." And in a way, they're right -- it's an incredibly cohesive and strong set of tunes, in a Wilco-meets-Neil Young (circa the latter's Comes a Time and Prairie Wind releases) kind of way. Consisting of country-flavored tracks ("Buy It Now"), rockers (the album opening "Little Bit of Help," "All Roads Lead Back to Me"), and symphonic ballads ("Salty Dog"), Langford is at the top of his game throughout, as pals from both the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and the Waco Brothers lend a hand. The honest-to-goodness traditional sounds of Gold Brick is a much welcomed arrival -- especially in the midst of the early 21st century quagmire of American Idol-esque studio enhanced Muzak.

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