It's simply common knowledge that Calexico is most probably
the single greatest band to ever emerge from the deserts of Tucson,
Arizona. While their predecessors and colleagues have made space rock,
country music, old school emo, jangle pop and more, the band - formed
around guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino
- have long purveyed a smoky, Southwestern music with hints of noise
and moments of border/Norteno music
but on their latest release,
Carried To Dust, the band is centered squarely on the border
flavor of their greatest works. The spaciness of their early albums
is mostly gone, and the band seems to have finally fallen in step
with their true purpose
Spanish-flavored Americana with tremendous
amounts of soul and beauty.
The record begins with the beautiful shake of "Victor Jara's
Hands", a song that brings out the Southwestern feel and really
shines on Joey Burns' fantastic voice. Starting low and slow and
then building into a modern samba, this song is the perfect opener
for a great set of music. The first single from the record is "Two
Silver Trees" and it is the kind of song that defines Calexico.
Modern rock textures loosely weave their way through lazy Spanish
rhythms as Joey Burns eerily sings the melody. The music is relaxed
and smoky, presenting in aural ways what the best writers convey
with words on paper and the finest films convey with light and color.
Other songs, filled with nylon stringed guitars and brushed drums,
touch on more border-themed music ("The News About William")
or launch into full-blown Mexican flair ("Inspiracion")
with trumpets playing and Spanish-sung lyrics. "Writer's Minor
Holiday" is a seamless blending of the modern with the traditional,
and may be one of Calexico's finest songs ever as it travels down
a hazy, dark road colored with heavily rhythmic guitars, moving
bass lines, and brilliant vocal melodies.
If there was ever the need for proof of Calexico's place in the modern
pantheon of Americana then let Carried To Dust provide such
proof. The album gathers together everything with which the band has
experimented and built over the past five or so records and creates
Calexico. There are bits and pieces of
things that can be classified, but this album is one of those rare
gems that no longer begs comparison, but rather stands completely
on its own - not only the scope of its own music, but in defining
the artist that has created it.
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