Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 10 February 2013

Calexico: Tucson Collective Caught The New Orleans Vibe & Aim To Infect Brighton

Calexico, the Tucson collective of musicians focused chiefly around Joey Burns and John Convertino, head to Brighton Dome Corn Exchange later this month.

Never afraid to blend musical genres - Burns and Convertino cite everything from Portuguese fado, 50's jazz, 60's surf, the spaghetti western epics of Ennio Morricone and dark indie rock singer songwriters as influences – the band have created an eclectic identity through their exploration of Southwestern culture.

For their latest LP, the band left behind the dusty deserts and the loners that inhabit them and headed to New Orleans to create arguably the most exciting and accessible record Calexico have ever made: Algiers

The feel of the record – the band's seventh full-length album – is recognisably classic Calexico, but their style been revitalised and reborn by the experience of recording in the city


"I've always loved New Orleans," explains Convertino, "I knew that just by being in that place, with all that history that is so rooted in music, things would be different. 

"You can't help but pick up the vibe. The air itself moves you in a way that is very different from anywhere else."

Their working methods also changed, with Burns putting aside his nylon string guitar when he was writing in favour of either an electric guitar or even the piano, whilst Convertino was in turn inspired to play with sticks more than his trademark brushes. 

With the duo both resident in the studio at the same time, they collaborated more closely than for some considerable time, with Convertino adding lyrics and playing a greater role in the song's arrangements.

The duo first met in 1990 when they began playing together in Giant Sand with Howe Gelb.

After a stint in Tucson's neo-lounge combo Friends of Dean Martinez, the duo alternated between experimenting with their own instruments and performing as session musicians. 

Their debut album Spoke caused the music industry to sit up and take notice of their unique Tex-Mex Americana, and follow up albums The Black Light and Hot Rail soon followed.

Over the last ten years the band have release soundtrack work, live DVDs and collaborated with the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Neko Case and Iron & Wine's Sam Beam. 

As well as receiving international success, the band have even seen their music played in space - Crystal Frontier was played as wake-up music for the astronauts on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2008, and song Slowness played as the wake-up song on the space shuttle Endeavour's final flight

Calexico at Brighton Dome Corn Exchange on Tuesday 19 February. See for more details.

by: Mike Cobley


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