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Transmission
« Review: Tilly and the Wall @ Lincoln Hall 10/8 Trey Anastasio Hits Chicago Solo (Plus, a Contest) »

Preview Wed Oct 10 2012

Preview: Calexico @ Lincoln Hall 10/15

Calexico does so many things well. While some bands need entire albums to try on different genres (a "country album," etc.), the members of Calexico tend to pull off multiple style shifts in the same song — and always within the scope of an album. Named after the small town on the U.S.-Mexico border in California, the band writes music that soundtracks desert landscapes while often opening up in the most unexpected ways.

Even in their first few albums and EPs in the late '90s, core members Joey Burns (guitar and vocals) and drummer John Convertino were using their South-of-the-Border sound as a platform to sneak into jazz, post-rock, or other times straight-up Mariachi. And if that seems like an impossible combination of sounds, just listen to their 1998 EP Even My Sure Things Fall Through. It worked. Since then, the band has consistently churned out solid albums that refuse to take on one specific shape stylistically.

Calexico-John-Joey.jpg
Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns (photo courtesy of the band)

In its most recent releases, the band seems to be refining its alt-rock chops, giving up some of the experimentalism of its earlier work for more focused songwriting. After scoring the soundtracks to a couple of films, and even appearing in Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There (as some sort of military backing band for a face-painted Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, no less), the band is back with a new album, Algiers, released last month. It features a slick sound that more or less picks up where 2008's strong and accessible Carried to Dust left off.

Algiers takes its name from the New Orleans neighborhood where the band recorded, but don't take that as any hint to what the songs sound like. Even the title track is still an instrumental shuffle of individually picked tremolo guitar chords, lap steel, and highway-mirage conjuring trumpets. Not exactly the New Orleans landscape I imagine. But again, it works.

The track below, from Algiers, features all the band's typical Southwestern elements, this time with an impressive build towards the middle that is a good indication of where their live show could go this coming Monday at Lincoln Hall. Burns and Convertino often fill their tours with guest musicians to fill all of the horn parts and occasional Spanish-language vocals, so expect a big sound.


At this rate, each Calexico album seems to be the next best example of everything this band is capable of doing. And what this band is capable of doing is evoking the desolation of the Southwestern landscape and taking it anywhere their musical chops can.

Calexico's tour in support of Algiers rolls into Chicago on Monday, October 15, at Lincoln Hall. Tickets are $25, and the show begins at 8pm. The Dodos open. 21+. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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