If U.K. punk O.G.s The Mekons seemed to be running out of ideas in recent years—they rerecorded their earliest anthems (Punk Rock) and released an all-acoustic album (Natural)—Ancient & Modern 1911-2011 is a pleasant return to form. Which is to say it’s a welcome about-face, another 180 from a band that’s mostly made a career of them. But instead of exploring a single new idea, Ancient & Modern finds a litany of fresh directions within The Mekons’ twisted cowpunk rubric. “Space in Your Face” is the kind of valedictory fist-pumper Alejandro Escovedo might bring to Bruce Springsteen for a collaboration. “Calling All Demons” is a backwoods banger, all bravery and whiskey. “Geeshie” is straight outta Tin Pan Alley. Weirdly, the gruffer Jon Langford sings, the more he sounds like Joe Strummer, the late Clash frontman whose “White Riot” inspired the 1978 Mekons spoof “Never Been in a Riot.” How’s that for longevity?
The Mekons play an acoustic show with Chris Mills at 8 p.m. at Iota Club and Café, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $16. (703) 522-8340.