The genesis for this project came about while Will Oldham was touring Europe with his Bonnie “Prince” Billy band. They worked up enough Mekons songs to do a full set of the legendary eclectic bands material. That was in 2012. Four years later, Oldham and Angel Olsen are bringing their Mekons tribute to the masses as the Chivalrous Amoekons. Oldham has paid tribute to the Mekons before with his old band, Palace Brothers (For the Mekons, et al). Will also earned deputy Mekons status when he filled in for Tom Greenhalgh on tour.
The Mekons are such a unique collective that I never imagined anyone covering their songs. At first it felt really strange hearing, “The Curse” played by someone else. But then, hearing someone else re-imagining these songs reminds me just how good the Mekons can be as song writers. The Chivalrous Amoekons rendering on “One x One” has the stately grandeur of a Fairport Convention song. The lead off track, “The Curse” is rendered as a relaxed, country shuffle (a dramatic contrast to the originals claustrophobic density). The rootsy version of “Big Zombie” turns the fear and loathing into a square dance stomp. I never imagined “Last Dance” as a vehicle for kazoo, but it works.
In keeping with the Mekons long standing commitment to social causes, proceeds from Fanatic Voyage will go to The Roots of Music project in New Orleans. The organization empowers local youth through music education, academic support and mentorship. What better way to pay it forward than to nurture the next generations in a place so synonymous with music?