ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The Mekons, an English punk band, have been making music for about 30 years. Originally inspired by the Sex Pistols, the Mekons have wandered far from their musical roots. On their new album, "Natural," the group opts for acoustic instruments over screeching electric guitars.
Chris Nickson has our review.
(Soundbite of song, "Dark Dark Dark")
MEKONS (Singing Group): (Singing) The twisted trees sing, dark, dark, dark.
CHRIS NICKSON: "Natural," sees the Mekons walking in a post-apocalyptic world -full of past and present, but precious little future. What remain are the timeless things - stone circles, plants, animals, myths and friendships. That might sound depressingly dour, but the results have a surprisingly hopeful quality, as on "White Stone Door."
(Soundbite of song, "White Stone Door")
MEKONS: (Singing) A sparrow falls through dawn air mist. Set in stone, searching for a signal. Beams through the atmosphere, a white stone door.
NICKSON: Recorded over a couple of years in a pair of rural English locations, "Natural" stands even more removed from the musical mainstream than most Mekons albums. There's a studied artlessness to it. It might sound thrown together, but it's the product of plenty of thought and work.
Even at its most accessible, on the reggae-tinged "Cockermouth," it still remains tantalizingly elusive. After all, how many songs can weave together a ramble through Wordsworth country, with mentions of The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones and naturalist Henry David Thoreau?
(Soundbite of song, "Cockermouth")
MEKONS: (Singing) Over the hills and far away, all through the day I ramble. I rock 'n' roll in standing stones; with Brian Jones I ramble. You don't have to believe in the end. You have to believe this is the end. This is the end - I ramble.
NICKSON: The Mekons might have started out as punks in 1977, but three decades on, they have evolved into a category of their own, outside any pigeonhole. But with its sly humor, iconoclastic wisdom, and mix 'n' match musical ethos, the mostly acoustic "Natural" hews closer to the real spirit of punk than any CD of buzz saw guitars and shouted lyrics.
SIEGEL: The music is from the Mekons; our critic is Chris Nickson.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
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