This XIXA article was written by Gemma Parkes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Will Hayes Collins.
Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, XIXA encapsulates the grittiness of life in the primitive Sonoran desert with their brand of psychedelic-cumbia-rock in debut EP, ‘Shift & Shadow’.
On a mission to set the sounds of South America alight with rock ‘n’ roll, Giant Sand members Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan founded XIXA out of a deep adoration for chicha and cumbia music and their alt-American-rock background. The intertwining of these vastly different genres has allowed XIXA to create a body of work that modernises and gives a harder edge to the traditional music of South America.
Lead track ‘Shift & Shadow’ gets off to an explosive start. With guitars that sound like spaceships at war and a moody bass line that bounces off a raucous drum beat, the intro is packed with all the elements of a classic rock song. However, this is abruptly interrupted by a quirky ethnic infused electronic melody that will transform any fist-pumping action into a sudden urge to dance the tango, which leads nicely into a highly infectious chorus. There is no doubt that this is the strongest track on the EP.
On ‘Plateau’ Lopez sings, “nothing on the top but a bucket and a mop” and “many hands began to scanfor the next plateau” which creates a vivid imagery of the mundane and arduous life that is led in a desert state. The song begins with simplistic chimes of Peruvian-inspired music and even mimics the style’s standard musical structure. The slow and steady beat eventually builds into an atmospheric outro which would be fitting for a standoff scene in an iconic Western movie.
Closing track ‘Dead Man’ is an emotive ode to the ill-fated inhabitants of this dusty desert town. The lyric “on these streets where dead men meet where I was born” is followed by eerie, melancholic panpipe, with the theme of shadows appearing once again (“I’m lost inside my shadow”). This is dark, brooding and full of turmoil.
Above all, XIXA show snippets of their ability with an innovative EP that adds heavier and darker dynamics to their Latin influences, but the rock ‘n’ roll momentum fades somewhat after a strong opener.
‘Shift and Shadow’ is out now via Glitterhouse Records.