Album: Calexico, Algiers City (Slang)
A new city inspires new sounds for US roots-rockers
On their sixth album, Calexico finally sound more like a band with memorable,
individual songs, than a project dedicated to creating audio soundscapes
evocative of the American southwest. There's still a discernible whiff of
hickory smoke about these songs, and the distinctive arms of saguaro cactus
still stand out against the aural horizon, but there's something extra going on
It may be the result of Joey Burns and John Convertino working outside of their comfort zone. They had originally wanted to record in Europe, but never got it together, and settled instead on the most "European" city in America, New Orleans, naming the album after the district in which the studio was situated. The city's influence seeps unbidden into the songs, particularly the rhythms: in "Splitter", the Bo Diddley guitar is set off by the descending piano motif in a way that doesn't really happen anywhere else; and the usual Calexico mood-tableau is elegantly adapted to a New Orleans second-line shuffle groove on "Sinner In The Sea", in which guitar, horns, organ and pedal steel combine in a syncopated manner that's part Mardi Gras, part tango.
Similarly suspended between Latin and Western modes is "Para", while "Algiers" itself again allies the duo's dusty desert twang to a more humid Crescent City shuffle; their borderline roots are more directly exposed on the norteño ballad "No Te Vayas", with its proud mariachi horns, and in the twangy cuatro guitar of "Puerto".
Burns' voice imposes its own character on the songs – a haunting blend of mystery and trepidation tempered with longing, in tracks such as "Epic" and "Splitter", whose protagonist, "pushed by the wind, fed by the need for moving on", feels the characteristic tug of the road. It's probably the same character who in "Maybe On Monday", haunted by a vision of his beloved in a nighttime vigil, writes a song for her and carries it with him "till I lay down by your side", its presence a constant pricking of emotion for a soulmate who may be dead, or simply left behind.
Download: Epic; Splitter; Sinner In The Sea; Maybe On Monday
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
- 5 Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Jorge Luis Borges fan brings his infinite library to life online
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
Trailer for Robin Williams' last film Absolutely Anything starring Simon Pegg released
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally