You can never fault ‘Calexico’ for a lack of variety and originality across their releases. Their ability to mix genre’s and obscure instrumentation throughout their existing eight albums have offered a myriad of memorable moments, and if truth be told some quite curious ones as well.
And so, it’s on to album number nine ‘Edge of the Sun’ from the Arizona based duo and I’m delighted to say that the comments articulated to all in paragraph one are as relevant to this new release as they have been to the bands back-catalogue.
The premise for ‘Edge of the Sun’ seems to be that of all things Mexicana. The band has always incorporated a Latin swagger to previous material but for this LP they’ve completely upped the ante. The album was partly written in Mexico and the attentiveness to their surroundings has obviously inspired the band to completely immerse them-selves into the culture. Whereas before we may have had small elements of brass and Latin-esque rhythms the band now showcases these sounds with utter bravado. It’s big and outrageously brash ensuring the listener is left in no doubt as to the subject matter.
However, this is a Calexico release and so nothing is as simple as one may expect. Sure, there are the wonderful Latin sounds on the likes of on ‘Cumbia de Donde’, ‘Coyoacan’ and the dream-like ‘Beneath the City of Dreams’ but there are also moments of indie, electronica and glorious Americana in the form of ‘Woodshed Waltz’. Even with all of the above there is still an obvious continuity from track to track. It all seems to flow without any musical distraction or need to hit the ‘next’ button.
Interestingly the album also contains a healthy number of contributions from fellow musicians including Iron & Wine, the Greek group Takim , Neko Case, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Mexican singer Carla Morrison, and Spanish musician Amparo Sanchez. It’s an eclectic mix of artists and each not only offers a brief taste of their ability but all ensures that their contribution adds to the make-up of their associated track. These songs are as much about the artist contributing as to the band themselves … a partnership of sorts.
Without doubt this is the bands strongest material to date. It may have been recorded in a more relaxed manner but its sound is bigger than anything that’s gone before. There are obvious pop elements to be heard throughout and there are points where the melodies are joyfully overwhelming. This LP is the classic that the band has come so close to achieving throughout their illustrious career.
You can see ‘Calexico’ at one of the following venues…