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Their albums don’t sell particularly well (even by small-label standards) and they often play to less-than-packed houses, yet few bands can match the influence and longevity of the Mekons. Over the group's nearly four-decade career, the ever-shifting roster of members have forged a distinct sound — grounded in the roots vernacular of the U.S. and their native U.K. — and won over a small but vocal number of admirers, from rock critic Lester Bangs to novelist Jonathan Franzen. The improbable story of this cult band is the subject of a new documentary, Revenge of the Mekons — and Yahoo Movies has the exclusive trailer, which you can watch above.
In the film, director Joe Angio (2005's How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)) traces the history of the band, which was formed in 1977 by a group of art-school misfits of modest ambitions and limited musical abilities. In the years that follow, members drifted in and out, and the group's sound evolved from bare-bones proto-punk to an eclectic style that combines modern English folk and classic American country. That sound reached its apex with the group''s 1985 album Fear and Whiskey — a record widely considered to have launched the so-called “alt-country” movement.
The movie — which mixes archival footage with observations from a wide array of fans, including Franzen, singer-songwriter Will Odlham, and cultural critic Greil Marcus — offers a candid view of the creative process, and a vivid understanding of how the band (which retains more than a vestige of its socialist roots), has managed to stay together over such a long time, and still remain relevant.
Revenge of the Mekons opens Oct. 29 at New York City’s Film Forum Cinema