Sunday, September 30, 2012

Calexico Algiers 2012

This new one from Calexico finds them mining old territory from a new angle. They still sound like the Southwestern Jayhawks at their most accessible, but it is their other material that creeps up on you. Quiet ballads with brilliant arrangements. Tasty Spanish guitar and mariachi horns. All elements they've used before to fuse their Ennio Moricone soundtrack-inspired instrumentals with a their unique take on Tex-Mex Americana.

Those influences are less obvious on this one, but they are infused in every song. Rather than individual songs that feature single elements of their inspiration, we get instead a blend of all that has come before into a new, unified sound. The sound of Calexico. Not so much homogenized as thoroughly blended.  

There are rockers (Epic, Splitter, Maybe On Monday, Sinner In The Sea), ballads (Fortune Teller, Para, Better And Better, Hush, The Vanishing Mind), a few fine Spanish numbers thrown in for good measure (Puerto, No Te Vayas), and the title track, an instrumental as only Calexico crafts them. Everything tastes like the Southwest, with some of that wide-screen cinematic scope they have made their own. They really cover a broad range stylistically, and that helps them stay entertaining.

The work of two songwriters, John Convertino (drums) and Joey Burns (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Calexico tour and record with many additional players. If you've never heard this band, this isn't the worst way to be introduced. If you're a fan already, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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