Tag Archives: Calexico

Back To Black – 2014: A Year In Vinyl (Part 2 of 4)

So, 2014 has been over a few weeks now and I’ve had a chance to mull over the best additions to my collection this year.  Like 2013, I’ve added a bunch of my favouries.  I’ve also caught up with records that I missed in 2013 and added a bunch o’ reissues.  I’ve upped the list to 20 this year cause, well, cause I happened to get more records.  While not a list of the best albums I bought, this is a run-down of my favourite additions.  The ones that I was right excited about.

#15 Ry Cooder – Paris, Texas (1986)

paris, texasPicked this one up for £2.50 back in August.  One o’ them brilliant finds.  I bought the CD way back in 2012 when I was really discovering Ry Cooder and replacing that became a priority when I picked up the record player.  Didn’t imagine I’d see it so cheap, though.  Anyhoo, it’s had many a spin – I could honestly just keep flipping this record and listen to it for hours.  But then, there’s loads more music to listen to and things to be done, right?  The closing salvo of I Knew These People and Dark Was The Night remains an absolutely wonderful experience.  Absolutely incredible stuff.  No matter how familiar you get with it.

# 14 Calexico – Feast of Wire (2003)
calexico

This has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it back in 2004.  Quite possibly Calexico’s finest moment, really.  I didn’t really need to think too hard about this one when I spotted it in Fopp for £10.  Seriously nice record and I reckon that was a wee bargain – an album that just keeps delivering something new each time I spin it.

#13 Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours (1955)
wee small

Another record that was part of my splendiferous October haul.  This one arrived courtesy of the Record Fayre.  I had been looking out for this one a while when I spotted it among the bundle of ‘still-to-be-put-out’ records sitting behind the counter.  £2, too.  It’s an outstanding mood record for sure, but more importantly it’s one of Sinatra’s finest, and his performances here really highlight that he was peerless.  This here is a 1984 re-issue with the original cover, but it’s a fine find.

#12 Brad – Shame (1993)
brad

I haven’t been one for looking at reissues too often.  Mostly because I find them to be a tad overpriced.  However, I tend to have a shifty at them when it comes to picking up some of my favourite albums from the 90s.  For example, do I spend upwards of £50 on a copy of Brad’s 1993 debut on Discogs or look at buying the 2013 Razor & Tie reissue?  I opted for the latter (£12.64 inc. postage from Amazon Marketplace) and would recommend it to anyone looking for that LP.  One of the best additions to my collection for sure.

#11 Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
highway 61 revisited

This was a gift from my brother.  Back in April I received a text from my brother telling me he “threw a record in the mail”.  I had completely forgot that he said he had a spare copy of this and that he’d send it to me.  Given that it’s one of those albums I get lost in, I was completely surprised that I’d forgotten that part of our conversation weeks earlier.  This here is an original mono version – which was also ace, as I hadn’t heard the mono version.  It’s old.  The cover’s a bit tatty.  But it plays wonderfully.  As you could imagine, this record has been played and played and played.

Part 1 – #20 to #16

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“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.