Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Calexico - Garden Ruin (Quarterstick, 2006)

Calexico emerged from the American desert southwest a couple of years ago with a unique sound that mixed traditional instruments with electric rock and roll to produce a sound that was quickly embraced by the alternative rock community and musicians like Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) and Neko Case. With this album they tone down the quirkiness that had been threatening to pidgeon-hole them a little bit, while still maintaining a distinctive feel to their music.

What separates this album from their previous work is the focus on traditional electric guitar driven rock 'n roll and a more clearly defined structure to their songs. The band comes blasting out of the gate on the opener "Cruel" and doesn't let up for most of the LP length album. There are not a lot of flashy guitar solos on this record, but the more structured nature of the music should broaden the bands appeal beyond indie hipsters, while the deep songwriting should keep the cries of sellout to a minimum. Some deft acoustic guitar and percussion gives the music depth and there are even some delicate synth flashes that lend a prog-rock like sheen to a few of the songs. This is an interesting step forward for a uniquely American rock and roll band, and should win over a new group of fans - recommended.

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