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|Origin||Tucson, Arizona, USA|
Our Soil, Our Strength
|Associated acts||Giant Sand, Friends of Dean Martinez, Howe Gelb, OP8, The Band of Blacky Ranchette, Iron & Wine, Neko Case, Los Super Seven, Amor Belhom Duo, Marianne Dissard, Victoria Williams, Barbara Manning, Richard Buckner, Naked Prey, Gotan Project, Nancy Sinatra, Lizz Wright, Depedro, Jim James|
Calexico is a Tucson, Arizona-based Americana, Tex-Mex, indie rock band. The band's two main members, Joey Burns and John Convertino, first played together in Los Angeles as part of the group Giant Sand. They have recorded a number of albums on Quarterstick Records, while their 2005 EP In the Reins recorded with Iron & Wine has reached the Billboard 200 album charts. Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi, conjunto, cumbia, tejano, as well as country, jazz, and post-rock. The band has been described by some as "desert noir", and is named for the border town of Calexico, California.
Calexico had its origins in 1990 when Joey Burns, who was studying music at the University of California, Irvine, met up with John Convertino, who was playing drums with Howe Gelb in Giant Sand. Burns joined them, after first playing upright bass on a European tour.
Giant Sand moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1994. Burns and Convertino formed the Friends of Dean Martin (later the Friends of Dean Martinez) which scored a record deal with Sub Pop. However, the pair split up with Bill Elm, the co-founder of The Friends of Dean Martinez in 1996. The band subsequently became a kind of indie rhythm section for hire, working with the likes of Victoria Williams, Barbara Manning and Richard Buckner before forming Calexico.
Calexico first recorded Spoke in 1995 for German independent label Hausmusik with a limited edition of 2,000 copies. At that point the band was still called Spoke and the album was technically self-titled. After the band signed with Quarterstick Records (a subsidiary of Touch and Go Records) and changed their name to Calexico, Spoke was reissued by that label in 1997. Burns and Convertino also collaborated with Gelb and Lisa Germano on the album Slush released under the name OP8 that same year.
Their second album The Black Light was released in 1998. This was a concept album about the desert of Arizona and northern Mexico and received excellent reviews, with the critic from the Wall Street Journal rating it as one of the best records of the year.
The band built their profile by touring as support acts for bands such as Pavement, the Dirty Three and Lambchop. Calexico has regularly played festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Hurricane Festival and All Tomorrow's Parties. The Road Map album was a limited recording released in 1999 for sale only at Calexico's live shows.
Calexico released its third album Hot Rail in May 2000 featuring the addition of horns and violin to their sound. The duo was busy in 2000 as they also appeared on a Giant Sand record called Chore of Enchantment as well as a tour only record Travelall.
At the end of 2000, Burns and Convertino joined with two French friends Naïm Amor and Thomas Belhôm to record "Tête A Tête" (Wabana Records, 2001) released under moniker ABBC (Amor/Belhom/Burns/Convertino). Calexico released two collections of rarities during 2001. Even My Sure Things Fall Through collected outtakes from previous albums, B-sides, remixes and material previously unreleased in the US. The album also featured Mariachi Luz de Luna who frequently played live with the duo. The Aerocalexico album was sold exclusively at their gigs in 2001.
The Scraping live album was released in 2002. Their next studio recording Feast of Wire was released in 2003 and made the charts for the first time appearing on Billboard's Heatseekers and Independent album chart. They made their first video for "Quattro (World Drifts In)" which was a single from Feast of Wire. They released a live DVD in 2004 called World Drifts In: Live at the Barbican. The song "Güero Canelo", from Feast of Wire, was featured in Michael Mann's Film, Collateral, starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, in which the band appears.
Calexico contributed the song "Burnin' Down the Spark" to Nancy Sinatra's self-titled album in late 2004. The album featured artists who cited Sinatra as a musical influence. The song was released in the UK as the second single from the album in early 2005.
In 2005, Calexico joined up with Miami-based folk band Iron & Wine. Howard Greynolds of Overcoat Records was responsible for bringing the two bands together having previously been responsible for Tortoise and Will Oldham recording together. The In the Reins EP was released in September 2005 and received a positive reception with an MSNBC review giving it honorable mention. It also made an appearance in the Billboard 200 album charts, becoming their first recording to make the album charts, and No. 12 on the independent charts. In October 2005, they commenced a US tour with Iron & Wine to promote the record.
Released in 2006, Garden Ruin is Calexico's fifth studio album and was produced by JD Foster. The sound strays slightly from earlier works, focusing less on the horn section, and placing more emphasis on guitar and vocal tracks, giving the whole album a more mainstream sound.
In 2007, Calexico was invited by Arcade Fire to record a cover of their "Ocean of Noise." This recording was used as the B-side for Arcade Fire's "Intervention" single, originally released on vinyl on May 21, 2007. Also in 2007, Calexico recorded a revamped version of the Bob Dylan song "Goin' to Acapulco" for the Dylan biopic "I'm Not There". The song featured Jim James of My Morning Jacket on vocals and was featured on the soundtrack of the film.
Several of Calexico's songs, usually their shorter instrumental pieces, have been used as interstitial and background music on Public Radio International's This American Life. Their songs "Ballad Of Cable Hogue" and "Service And Repair" were featured in the 2001 German comedy movie Lammbock.
Their sixth studio LP is called Carried to Dust, featuring Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Douglas McCombs of Tortoise and Pieta Brown. It was released in the USA via Touch & Go Records on September 9, 2008. The album enjoyed solid reviews, with hometown paper the Arizona Daily Star praising the band's "ability to sweep you into its world, taking listeners to the American Southwest. This is one of the reasons Europeans love Calexico and others in this country are beginning to come around."
On October 16, 2008, a three-song live acoustic video performance premiered on LiveDaily Sessions, featuring Joey Burns performing the songs "Two Silver Trees," "Writer's Minor Holiday" and "Man Made Lake".
In 2010, a new album of Calexico was released: the soundtrack of the documentary "Circo". The band also spent part of 2010 touring with Arcade Fire along the west US coast.
In April 2015, the band released the album Edge of the Sun . The album features guest appearances by Neko Case, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Gaby Moreno, Carla Morrison and members of the Greek instrumental group Takim. This album was also released on ANTI RECORD.
In 2016 the band performed on the main stage at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Calexico was also slated to play the Lost Lake Festival on October 20th, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
In 2017, the band Calexico announced their ninth studio album titled The Thread That Keeps Us. The record created in Northern California in a home-turned-studio called the Panoramic House. They called this space “The Phantom Ship.” The album is set to be released January 26th, 2018.
The Album co-produced by their longtime engineer Craig Schumacher. Calexico and Schumacher recruited musicians from all across the globe to find an earthy yet expansive sound. “There’s a little more chaos and noise in the mix than what we’ve done in the past,” Burns points out. The Northern Californian jagged region really impacted the making of The Thread That Keeps Us. This sound is heard throughout the album. The album is set to be released by Anti-Records and City Slang.
Calexico had a busy 2017 summer, playing many festivals and preparing their new album. The Band is gearing up for their European tour in 2018.
The current members of Calexico are:
- Joey Burns – vocals, guitars, bass, cello, piano, keyboards, accordion, percussion, vibraphone
- John Convertino – drums, percussion, piano, keyboards, vibraphone, marimba, accordion
- Paul Niehaus – steel guitar, guitars
- Jacob Valenzuela – trumpet, keyboards, vibraphone, vocals
- Martin Wenk – trumpet, guitar, keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel, vibraphone, theremin (occasionally harmonica & French horn)
- Volker Zander – standup bass, electric bass
Live tour 2013:
- Joey Burns - vocals, guitars
- John Convertino - drums, percussion
- Sergio Mendoza - Keyboards
- Jairo Zavala - bouzouki, baritone guitar, vocals
- Jacob Valenzuela – trumpet, keyboards, vibraphone, vocals
- Martin Wenk – trumpet, guitar, keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel, vibraphone (occasionally harmonica & French horn)
- Ryan Alfred - bass, vocals
Calexico has gained a reputation for consistently releasing quality records. Their freshman album Spoke received three stars from All Music. All Music called the album, “a Santa Fe rummage sale of sounds.” Their Sophomore Album The Black Light, which was released in 1998 gained the band notoriety and attention. All Music praised this sophomore effort and gave the album 4.5 stars. The album was praised for being “deeper and richer than their debut.” This effort showed Calexico’s quick maturity into a band that poised for a long career.
Hot Rail was released in 2000 and continued off the success of previous albums. Pitchfork gave the album a 7.9. The band then took a brief hiatus and released their next studio album in 2003, Feast of Wire. This album can be viewed as their breakthrough, receiving incredible reviews across the board. The album received an 8.9 from Pitchfork. Pitchfork described the album as “the album we always knew they had in them but feared they would never make.”
Again after another hiatus, Calexico returned in 2006 with Garden Ruin. Their streak of success continued with this album. Amazon gave their album a 90/100 and described it as “what Sigur Ros might sound like if they came from Arizona, and it's truly excellent.” In 2008, came Carried to Dust. By now Calexico was already established as a band who meticulously created beautiful albums. This success continued with Carried to Dust receiving 4.5 stars from AllMusic. Describing the album as “their most balanced, channeling their experience and potential into a subtly dramatic, chiaroscuro tour de force.”
2012 was a busy year for Calexico, giving birth to a new album titled Algiers. Once again, the band received high praise. The A.V. Club gave the album an A-. Their most recent studio album came in 2015; titled Edge of the Sun. Without surprise, this album received high ranks from reviewers. Rough Trade called the album the twenty-first best album of 2015.
- Spoke (1997)
- The Black Light (1998)
- Aerocalexico (1999)
- Hot Rail (2000)
- Feast of Wire (2003)
- Garden Ruin (2006)
- Carried to Dust (2008)
- Algiers (2012)
- Edge of the Sun (2015)
- The Thread That Keeps Us (2018)
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- Casa de Calexico -- official pages
- MTV Calexico artist page
- Houston Press Interview "Crystal Frontier"
- Calexico Allmusic.com article
- "One more gift from two great bands" MSNBC article on collaboration between Calexico and Iron & Wine
- "Calexico." Contemporary Musicians, Volume 33. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2005.
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