30 December 2008

Monday's mp3: Eating Calexico's Dust

Calexico: Carried to Dust

An eager publicist insisted that I have a listen to Calexico’s latest offering. The group has been on the periphery of my musical knowledge in recent years, though I admit to never developing a hunger for their sound. Apparently this album is a shift more toward the global music I’m inclined to write about.

Or is it?Calexico - Carried to Dust - on SoundRoots.org

From the git-go you’ll notice the Spanish portion of the opening track “Victor Jara’s Hands” backed by some mariachi-esque horns. Not exactly “world music,” but approaching Los Lobos territory. Then a couple brooding tunes and an odd 40-second guitar-snare interlude. A few more songs zip past in the blur of telephone poles half-seen between road and desert through the headlights’ sideways-leaking light -- intriguing, but dark and out of focus. Then... what’s this? “Inspiracion” sounds like something tasty out of the Ry Cooder-on-the-border songbook and features vocals by Amparanoia’s Amparo Sanchez.

[mp3] Calexico feat. Amparo Sanchez: Inspiracion
from the album Carried to Dust

Now we’re talking! Then, more telephone poles. Another town, called “El Gatillo (Trigger Revisited)," this one with nobody around to sing but boasting a compelling cowboy-whistle refrain worthy of a decent spaghetti Western. Then a few more telephone poles before the car runs out of gas and comes to a creaking stop in “Contention City.”

I’ll give this another listen without my “world music” hat on, but for those seeking a global landscape, be advised that Carried to Dust’s charms are widely dispersed amid broad swaths of melancholic desert.

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