Los Angeles punk crew hit a sweet spot between hedonism and poignancy on a multi-layered second album
London Shepherd's Bush Empire
Calexico's sonic cocktail is often strong enough to blow your head off...
Unfortunately, it comes with a Tex Mex platter that's a bit Three Amigos: the last half of the gig
sees John Convertino and Joey Burns bolstered by a goddamn mariachi band.
This is the last gig of their tour, though, and it's an opportunity for Calexico to indulge every aspect
of their scorpions'n'snakes Americana reverb revue. So we
get the eerie Twin Peaks country
of 'The Ride (pt II)', followed by the Latino shimmy of 'Stray', which leads us into the sparse Morricone-isms of 'Hot Rail', all conveyed with the maximum earnestness that Burns- checked shirt tucked into weathered jeans, natch - can muster. And while it's undeniably haunting, it hardly prepares us for the full-on riot of spicy horn blasts and Mexican hand-clapping that follows.
And yet, this is when Burns really starts slamming his gangly frame across the stage and ripping into his guitar, looking utterly content to - metaphorically speaking - race across the border and swallow a huge sonic burrito. The six-string interplay we witness between this drawling man and his mariachi cohorts is undeniably thrilling, and if it's slightly cheesy that's only because the scene on the stage looks too Sam Peckinpah for words. Best to forget about it, and just enjoy the party.
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