Calexico – Carried To Dust

by oz on October 29, 2008

It’s hard to listen to Calexico and not imagine yourself wandering in solitude amongst cacti and coyotes outside of some dried up, deserted border town on your quest for self-realization, actualization or whatever you call “finding yourself.” The rolling drums prod the tumbleweeds along and the whispery vocals canvas the star-ridden night sky. If you listen to Carried To Dust, leave your belongings behind, wear war paint, and take some peyote. You’re in for an experience.

The band is from Tucson which may explain the latin influence you’ll hear throughout the album. Carried To Dust starts with “Victor Jara’s Hands,” featuring vocals by Spanish singer, Jairo Zavala. It’s a political piece about the real life story of Chilean theater director, singer-songwriter, and political activist who was arrested,‚  tortured, and murdered during the 1973 US endorsed Chilean coup. Calexico found inspiration to write the song after seeing similar stories in recent headlines, with the events taking place in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

The collaborations don’t stop there, however. Calexico also get backing vocals from Sam Beam of Iron & Wine on “House of Valparaiso,” continuing what they started on the collaborative album In the Reins.‚  The only love song on the album, “Slowness,” features stirring vocals by Pieta Brown and “Bend To The Road” features master harmonicist Mickey Raphael who has been in Willie Nelson’s band since the 70’s and has also performed with U2, Emmy Lou Harris, and Neil Young.

I have every Calexico album and Carried to Dust is their best effort yet. These guys are true musicians that explore new sounds and bend genres. If you find yourself in a rut of music consumerism, listening to homogenized bands that are easily classified, then I really urge you to give Calexico’s Carried To Dust a chance.‚  Listening to them is like sailing into uncharted waters with no other vessels in eyesight.

I’m not sure I did the album justice, but it’s in my top 5 albums of 2008. Think of the scene in Young Guns when Lou Diamond Philips’ character, Chavez, takes the gang on a journey into the spirit world. Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid is ass backwards on a horse, Dirty Steve is firing buck shots at an imaginary chicken, Doc is reciting poetry, and Charlie is puking off a rock. The all-knowing Mexican-Indian guides them through a world of spirits that speak volumes in silence and give the gang a sense of their destiny. Calexico is Chavez and we’re all invisible…”because we’re in the spirit world, asshole.”

Website | MySpace | Quarterstick Records

Calexico – Two Silver Trees

Hear live, acoustic versions of “Two Silver Trees,” “Man Made Lake,” and “Writer’s Minor Holiday” from frontman Joey Burns’ session with Ticketmaster’s liveDaily.

Joey Burns solo on liveDaily Sessions

Calexico – “Two Silver Trees” Video


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Woody October 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

This is a very cool album. Much better than Garden Ruin which I felt lacked a bit of their eclectic nature. I don’t know if I would put above The Black Light or Feast Of Wire, but its early still.

I feel like I should be wandering around a dusty landscape, unshaven in a poncho with a half-empty bottle of tequila.

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