Algiers

Calexico

Anti-Records, 2012

http://www.casadecalexico.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/17/2013

Tucson's Calexico has found a niche that few if any other bands could fit. Though their sound incorporates a very distinct mariachi and traditional Latin sound, often incorporating '50s style jazz, they've managed to build a devoted fan base among indie rock enthusiasts. At the core of the group are Joey Burns and John Convertino, who splintered off after being in Howe Gelb's Giant Sand together, but they always have other hands helping out with horns, vibraphones and glockenspiels, among other noisemakers. nbtc__dv_250

Recorded in New Orleans this time (they've previously recorded in New Mexico), Calexico's seventh album Algiers explores some different ground while retaining their trademark Southwestern feel and highlighting the guitar driven sound of their break through masterpiece Garden Ruin. Lead off track "Epic" is one of the album's strongest songs, a lush blend of twinkling keys and aching strings. The quality of this track is matched with the following selection "Splitter," one of the most upbeat moments here that is punctuated with horns. These first two tracks show a more pop influenced Calexico and are among the best they've penned. These first two gems are really worth the price of admission on their own.

Further on in the album we have "Sinner In The Sea," which starts out like a subdued lounge number but builds into a rocker with organs and flamenco influences. Immediately after is "Fortune Teller," a breezy folk-pop moment with gentle guitars and wispy backing vocals. True to their form, there are a couple songs sung in Spanish: "Puerto" uses both English and Spanish while "No Te Vayas" is all Spanish, and even adds a glorious a trumpet solo. While there is progression in their sound here, there are also soft tracks like "Hush," which would have been right at home on their album with Iron & Wine.

Burns and Convertino have been playing music together for over 20 years now and that's as evident as ever with another varied and beautiful album. Their unique brand of Southwestern country rock meets Tex-Mex stabs is as engaging as ever, and some of the band's best work lives here. From dramatic to serene, creating sounds from quaint indie folk to very full sounding, big band textures,  this is yet another essential chapter of the Calexico adventure.

Rating: A

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