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
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Idris Elba responds to comments he's 'too street' to play James Bond as 007 author apologises for controversial comment
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up