Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Calexico's Algiers

My favorite Calexico since Feast of Wire, reviewed late last week at Dusted.


There’s a video for “Splitter” shot at the converted church near New Orleans where Calexico made Algiers. Joey Burns stands in front of an open doorway, the Crescent City Connection bridge just visible over his shoulder as he starts the song. He twitches out a one-note riff on his guitar, crooning in a spectral, cool tenor that has always seemed at odds with Calexico’s sweaty aesthetic. (It’s like water in the desert.) In a little while, the lens widens, and you see John Convertino, seated, pounding out a hard, staccato beat, all insistence and propulsion against Burns’s hallucinatory longing.

For the record, Calexico adds to the song’s foundation with keyboards, horns, multiple vocals, the multi-ethnic overload that has become one of the band’s calling cards. Yet in a way, this spare live take encapsulates everything that’s compelling about Calexico — the dialogue between tense rhythm and florid, dream-like yearning, the exceptional musicianship delivered casually, almost under the counter, and the sense of the mythic coming out of the most prosaic settings and character studies.


Otis put up the official video for "Splitter," but I like this one better.


Jean-Luc Garbo said...

I haven't listened to Calexico very much since Feast of Wire (which I also love) so this was fun to read. I'd forgotten that they were still out there, actually.

jenniferpkelly said...

Yeah, I think a lot of people have forgotten about them. At least the younger people who run most of the blogs...it's a really good album, though.

Jean-Luc Garbo said...

I've only listened to it twice, but this sounds even better than all of the other Calexico albums that I've enjoyed.

jenniferpkelly said...

Oh, good, I'm glad it's not just me.

Jean-Luc Garbo said...

There's also something so captivating to me about the vocals and the instruments where they sound like they're the same texture. "Para" is my favorite on here, but it all moves from song to song so smoothly.