2.10.2006

New Calexico

The New Calexico album, "Garden Ruin", hit the web today.
I got this description along with it:
Ennio Morricone's fantasy house band, Calexico, have some surprises in store for their fans when the follow-up to 2003's Feast of Wire comes out this spring. Due April 11 on Quarterstick, their longtime label, Garden Ruin seeks to cement Calexico's reputation as more than just "that indie rock band with Mariachi horns".

"I guess it kind of sounds different from previous records," frontman Joey Burns told Pitchfork earlier this week. "The Southwestern element is downplayed more on this release. It's focusing more on the songs themselves. There's no instrumentals on this record."

Calexico have been riding high recently. They've been out on the road in support of their successful collaboration with Iron & Wine, In the Reins, and finally secured their place in the adult contemporary world when NPR recently aired a performance from this tour. That's got to be worth, like, three OC soundtrack appearances.

Burns said that Calexico's desire to branch out was inspired by working with Iron & Wine and Neko Case (the band appears on her forthcoming album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood), as well as touring with Wilco. "It's helped us reconnect to the music scene in the States more, and I can see where in the past our music and our style has maybe been hard for people to identity with here, especially outside of the Western states. So having gotten to tour with Wilco and Iron & Wine, and playing festivals like Bonnaroo, has helped us play to bigger audiences and [ask], ‘What is about us that makes us different?' and 'What else do we have to offer that hasn't been highlighted before?'" "Listening to bands like Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens, digging into this tradition of singer/songwriters from the States, has had a big influence," Burns said. "I wanted to put down the nylon string guitar and pick up the steel string guitar, which may sound like a small factor, but for me, what you gravitate towards as far as what you're going to write songs on really does have an influence as far as where the songs are going to go."

Calexico's live improvisations also helped shape the sound of the album. "It's interesting to see what we can do to kind of continue on in the spirit of experimentation, trying new things and coming up with new sounds and new textures and arrangements," Burns said. "I really enjoyed performing and covering the song "Alone Again Or" [by Love] and just having the whole band singing and playing the trumpet, not so much in a Southwestern style, but more in a pop sense. So the first track off the record, "Cruel", is kind of a result of that. I think because of the climate here politically and socially, and the fact that the band is always into reinventing ourselves, we wound up kind of focusing on more of a classic American singer/songwriter or folk or rock influences."

The lyrics on Garden Ruin have more of a liberal political bent than the usual Calexico fare. "Touring a lot in Europe has presented a lot of questions to the band," Burns explained. "How do you feel about your government? Your country's choice for president? What's going on outside the international boundary lines? Living close to the border of Mexico, being born in Montreal, Canada-- these things kind of make you think outside of the TV box and what's being said and what's being focused on. So I think all things have an influence at some point on your life and eventually it kind of settles into your writing and your experiences as you get older, travel about, do music."

Tracklist:
01 Cruel
02 Yours and Mine
03 Bisbee Blue
04 Panic Open String
05 Letter to Bowie Knife
06 Roka
07 Lucky Dime
08 Smash
09 Deep Down
10 Nom de Plume
11 All Systems Red

Check out a couple of tracks:
Calexico - Cruel
Calexico - Leter to Bowie Knife

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