calexicocarried to dust
  • THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2008

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There always seems to be an heir of predictability that accompanies any new Calexico release. Their's is a history of crop dusted, Southwestern fare; a songwriting tendency Joey Burns and John Convertino are hopelessly joined to the hip with by now. So while the band will probably not incite any kind of hysteria with their latest record, Carried to Dust (Quarterstick), it is certainly a release worth noting. Put simply, Calexico are not an exercise in the tried and true. For that, Carried to Dust is an exceptionally worthy listen.

Chalky, burnt-red landscapes spilling their way over the horizon might come to mind as the album cycles through, but check any Southwest clichs at the door before pressing play. This is not a record concerned with piss-poor desert towns where the only thing cooking are the vats at the local meth labs. Instead, Calexico offer up one of their most worldly releases to date; one where culture and geography blaze bright and wild over the course of its 15 tracks. Get hip to "Inspiracion", and an extremely exotic vibe - one carried by peppered, mariachi trumpeters - is your reward. "House of Valparaiso" is a rich and hearty highlight. With Iron and Wine's Sam Beam contributing alternating vocal lines throughout, Burns and Convertino spin a lyrical nod to Chilean families - once exiled from the country in the wake of a US backed coup - the two met on tour. And if "El Gatalillo (Trigger Revisited)" isn't the perfect soundtrack for exploring the unknown South of the Border, then I dont know what is.

In many ways, it might ultimately help to think of this record as a sort of travel log. Funny thing about this kind documentation though: It's often meant to ignite an irresistible impulse to travel in those who stumble upon it. I imagine Calexico would probably suggest you not ignore such urges. Just be sure to make Carried to Dust the perfect sonic companion for wherever the open road takes you. - david pitz

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