Calexico - Feast of Wire | RECORD STORE DAY

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Calexico is Jeoy Burns and John Convertino of Giant Sand. Their fourth album is a masterpiece of beauty and diversity, with desert-rock guitar interplay to expansive noir-ish sweep to full-mariachi grandeur.


Joey Burns and John Convertino perform minor miracles when no one's keepingscore—most of the empty spaces in Neko Case's recent Blacklisted werefilled by Convertino's rock-steady drumming and Burns' alternatingturns on upright bass and cello. Vic Chesnutt, Barbara Manning and VictoriaWilliams have Burns and Convertino to thank for anchoring their finest solorecords and whatever Howe Gelb is paying the pair to make him look brilliantin Giant Sand clearly isn't enough. But the fact that Burns and Convertinohave yet to release a record as Calexico that's anywhere near as good astheir best session work offers a frustrating reminder of why it's easierto support someone else's vision than find others to support your own.

After attempting to stretch the Calexico sound out and accommodate more traditionalsong structures on 2000's intriguing but inconsistent Hot Rail, Burns andConvertino have gone back in the direction of 1998's thematically-linkedThe Black Light. The group's fourth full-length Feast of Wiretraces all of the missing links between mariachi music, epic spaghetti westernsoundtracks, Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds and Herb Alpert'slush Tijuana Brass arrangements. As always, a handful of songs could be sacrificedwithout losing any of the record's depth; the intentionally irreverent"Attack El Robot! Attack!" suggests Burns has been paying too muchattention to his remix work. Still, Feast of Wire offers Calexico'smost streamlined and succinct statement of purpose yet and the peaks are admirable:the record's opener "Sunken Waltz" finds the duo dropping anchorcomfortably in earnest Americana roots rock. And Burns' plaintive vocalson "Black Heart" really capture the essence of desperate living inthe American Southwest—another decadent, impossibly rich snapshot for thegroup's already overstuffed photo album.