“Washed my face in the rivers of empire. Made my bed with a cardboard crate”: Calexico – Feast of Wire (2003)

Feast of Wire is quite something.  One of those albums I still marvel at and it’s pretty much been the only record I listened to all this week.  There’s always something that gets me enthusiastic about the album.  It might be a whole song.  It might just be a flurry of notes.  Guitar or trumpet.  The intro to Sunken Waltz.  The lap steel.  Or Convertino’s drum patterns.  Or the strings that loom over the dusty night sky of Black Heart.  Or Burns singing stuff like “With a head like a vulture and a heart full of hornets, he drives off the cliff into the blue”.  Man, it really could be anything.

But this is all really just part of the Calexico parcel.  Whether they’re just providing the soundtrack to the idea of a long lost frontier or squaring the circle that joins Dylan, Springsteen and Los Lobos they constantly deliver.  Always dusty, always swaying.  And those wry tales of characters whose hopes are raised despite abandoning everything they know make us smile.

I dare say the can be the alt. country Radiohead – dusty experimenters.  Even when the songs are so incredibly tight and the album impossibly concise.  Side A is as perfect a side as Calexico have ever thrown our way.  From that marvellous salvo of Sunken Waltz and the dusty Quattro (World Drifts In) through to the gorgeous 70s flavoured folk rock of Not Even Stevie Nicks and the hushed shuffle of Woven Birds via the detours of Stucco and Pepita.  Side B is where that old world Calexico roam.  In addition to their mariachi flavoured jazz and blues fusions (just listen to the trombone and trumpet dance around each other on Crumble!) they throw beeps and bips and nice crunchy rhythms out as the soundtrack their very own Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Attack El Robot! Attack!).  An exploration, you could say.

So, yeah … all that awesomeness is why Feast of Wire remains my favourite Calexico album.  It’s the one that never over-reaches.  It really is flawless to these ears.  Complete with all the mood pieces of the albums that came before it and the finely honed songcraft of those that came after.  The melodies are glorious and the guitars warm.  Trust me, it’s seriously good stuff.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. 1537 says:

    I own odd tracks by them, but never taken the plunge and bought an album. You may have just tipped me over the edge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Woop! It’s definitely an album worth getting to know.


  2. jprobichaud says:

    This is indeed a great album, perhaps my favourite by Calexico… Not counting the EP they did with Iron & Wine of course…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Yeah, I don’t think they bettered this one. It just had everything – the songs and the instrumentals. Perfectly balanced.

      But yeah, the EP is pretty special, too.


  3. stephen1001 says:

    It’s the only one I have by them thus far – deserving of its inclusion among the 1001, nice record & nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Thanks! It really is a most excellent album and I was glad to see it among the 1001 …


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