If we're not careful, this could turn into a geography lesson right quick. Yesterday's OKKERVIL RIVER named themselves after a river in Russia -- which, in turn, was named for a 17th-century Swedish military man. (Little is known of this Swedish military man, except that he had an uncanny knack for musical melody and beat out PACHELBEL's "Canon in D" at the 1680 Eurovision Song Contest with his then-revolutionary "Theme for IKEA in G.")
Today's CALEXICO are named for a California city on the U.S./Mexico border. The band, on the other hand, call Tucson, Arizona home. JOEY BURNS and JOHN CONVERTINO are the founders and mainstays; other musical collaborators come and go with the easy-goin' to-and-fro of tumbleweeds.
It should probably come as no surprise, then, that the band's sound has shape-shifted a bit over the years -- moseying from "dusty," lo-fi Americana to Latin-inflected jazz to Mexican mariachi to spaghetti western to film noir to "all of the above" all at once. That Burns' whisper-in-the-wind vocals have played an increasingly large part in the Calexico canon in recent years has served to insert many a bee in many a bonnet of many a long-time fan, but it's the bee's knees for me.
Hell, I'm grateful that these guys have a restless streak in them -- a burr in their collective saddle, as it were. For them to have remained in place -- dusty, lo-fi, and wordless -- these past 11 years would have surely doomed them to obscurity. Like a whisper of wind through a ghost town, too far from the highway to be heard, seen, or saved.
CALEXICO on MySPACE.
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