Saturday, July 8th, 2006

Letter To Bowie Knife

Three months after its release, it’s probably safe to say that reaction to Calexico’s latest Garden Ruin has been somewhat muted compared to their usualy lofty standards. I, for the record, am not severly disappointed nor especially overwhelmed by it. But considering that in the past, part of the magic of their legendarily excellent live shows has been how effectively the band recreates the sun-bleached desert vistas of their recorded works, I did wonder how their more pop/singer-songwriter studio turn would translate on stage.

In short, same but different. If you were to draw a line down the stylistic halfway point between Garden Ruin and Feast Of Wire, you’d have an idea of what Calexico live, 2006 is like. The older material seemed leaner and more compact while the newer material got an infusion of the mariachi soul via horns and slide guitar that was kept on the back burner on Garden Ruin. I wonder, if the recorded arrangements had been more like the live ones, if the critical response to the album would have been more positive? But that’s neither here nor there – Calexico on this night were tight and taut with their typically excellent musicianship and striking a perfect balance between fire and restraint. They used the encore to cut extra-loose, inviting openers Oakley Hall as well as local talent Dallas Good of The Sadies and Jason Collett, who had originally been slated to open, to come out and join them for a couple numbers including a rousing cover of Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”.

It’s lucky that Calexico were so good on this night, because Oakley Hall set the bar pretty damn high with their opening set. I wrote them up earlier this week but wasn’t prepared for the sheer ass-kickingness of their set. Merging old-time country raucousness with mind-bending psychedelia and somehow coming out of it sounding timeless, Oakley Hall impressed not just me, but a goodly portion of the audience as well. If you’re going to see M Ward at the Mod Club on September 11, do yourself a favour and show up early enough to catch Oakley Hall – you won’t regret it.

Calexico favoured a very dark, projection-heavy stage show so good photos were a bit tougher to get. But hey, all in the name of ambience, right? Also, The Montreal Mirror talks to native son Joey Burns about Garden Ruin and some audio/video that I’ve linked many times before. Complain to someone else.

MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Lazy Susan”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel” (MOV)
MySpace: Calexico
MySpace: Oakley Hall

Billboard reports that after more touring through the Summer and Fall, Broken Social Scene will be going away for a while.

Punknews reports that Ted Leo is calling out Elton John as a racist – check out the July 5 entry. Soccer really brings out the worst in everyone, doesn’t it? Via Clicky Click.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River posted a terrific essay to his band’s message board about his deep ambievalence about file-sharing and why you won’t hear much new material during their Fall tour. I thought it was a wonderful piece, especially the parts about the internet being like the library of Babel. There are many (many) days when I long for the time when every new album purchase was treated like a sacred event. That said, you’ll have to pry my iPod out of my cold, dead hands.

My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan talks to Billboard about covering The Band at Levon Helm’s studio.

Prefix reports that the debut full-length from Chicago power-soul trio Catfish Haven, Tell Me, will be out September 12.

PopMatters offers some tips on how to educate those people who say they love every kind of music except country. You know, savages.

np – Early Day Miners / Offshore

By : Frank Yang at 8:48 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Sasha says:

    Frank, wanted to say thanks. My girlfriend won a pair of your Calexico tix and the show was awesome! They are great live, and to finish it off, Dallas Good, Jason Colette and Oakley Hall came out and played Dylan’s "Gotta Serve Somebody". First time seeing them and it was fantastic…thanks again!

  2. Thierry says:

    That Calexico show was all kinds of awesome, wasn’t it? My favourite moment was when I was thinking the mariachi horns definitely reminded me of Love…and then they kicked into "Alone Again Or"! Perfect.

    Thanks for the tickets, Frank!

    Oh, and is it just me or did one of Oakley Hall’s songs (the short, fast one, 4th or 5th song in the set) sound a lot like "Beat It" in the verses? Weird.

  3. Jacqui says:

    Thanks Frank…….the Calexico show was one great nite… ears are still ringing!

  4. joe says:

    Wow, not sure about the Sir Elton comments. Who would have pegged him for a Robert Deniro "Fanatic" type?

  5. Mememe says:

    Oakley Hall – if you like shrill – then see them again. If you don’t like shrill….AVOID!

    Calexico – heaven on a stage.

  6. Thierry says:

    Shrill??? I did not hear shrill at all. Unless you call the Jayhawks circa Sound of Lies or first-album Guthries, with a touch of Gram & Emmylou, shrill. ‘Cause that’s really what I heard during their excellent set.

  7. mike says:

    Thanks for the PopMatters link. Just glanced over(I will read it thoroughly some other time) but it looks like an interesting read…it could have come in handy yesterday at the Wilco show when my friend thought they were too country. Ha ha!

  8. suckingalemon says:

    the show was so so good, i hope a recording turns up because that last song cover was alot of fun.


  9. Sarah says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if a recording is out there somewhere. There was a guy up on the balcony who was, how shall I put this, quite equipped.

  10. Frank says:

    …now if I knew you personally, I’d feel comfortable asking why you were checking out his equipment…

    …but I don’t so I won’t.

  11. mintyfresh says:

    I think I saw a different show.
    I thought Calexico were great, although they were better a few months ago at the *shudder* Docks. Some of the newer stuff was a bit draggy…there was kind of a lull for me in the middle of the show, but then it all picked up again after "Alone Again Or."
    I thought Oakley Hall was terrible. Nowhere near the Jayhawks, for sure. The music was pretty tired and the constantly table-dancing backup singer annoyed me to distraction.
    And I had never seen Jason Collett live before but to me he looked like a University professor with a pickle up his butt, dancing with a Heineken.
    And I was all set to be disappointed with them dragging out Dallas Good again and not letting him do anything but then finally he let out a nice solo, showing the scary porcine-Bruce McDonald singer from Oakley Hall how it’s done.