10 February 2006

calexico - "all systems red" (from the garden ruin lp, released april 11, visit the band's official website here.)

in brief : a feast of fire & brimstone : calexico can't believe the news today ...

calexico doesn't have too many songs over six minutes in length; coming at the end of the album, i figured there was enough room in there for a hidden track. that there isn't is only the first surprise.

surprise #2 : topical lyrics. joey sings about gallup polls and rising death tolls and how the "chimes of freedom flash and fade." he's looking for a "sign in the morning air"; he won't like what he sees, but you'll like what you hear.

surprise #3: there's a storm brewing out on the horizon. the music builds and builds, and once you've inured yourself to the fact that there's no hidden track, you really wonder where all this can lead. of a sudden, the morning air turns violent, and you're in the midst of an arizona sandstorm. the band gets really fucking loud, joey is howling, effects pan across the speakers, voices cry out for justice--something tells me we're not in tucson anymore.

one wonders where the storm will set them down, what new undiscovered country they'll find themselves in; it seems that, wherever it is, there might be fewer strings and horns and love covers. which might disappoint some newer converts, but the band doesn't sound as if they feel they have options; to paraphrase the lyrics, their heart's breaking w/o a choice. musical opinions aside, one thing is made perfectly clear on "all systems red" : current events have certainly politicized calexico; the group's head is no longer buried in the sand.

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