Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Feast Of Wire

Photo by Frank Yang

After a weekend of beatings and breakings and the finest musical stylings that technology had to offer, it was good to shift gears Sunday night and get back to something a little more homespun and for getting back to roots, you can’t do much better than Calexico. They stopped in at the Mod Club in the midst of a Canadian tour, two years to the day since their last visit and almost two months before the release of their next album Return To Dust on September 9.

In keeping with the Canuck theme of their jaunt, they had invited along Calgary folk-chestra Woodpigeon along as support. I’d had the pleasure of making their acquaintance at Pop Montreal last year but in this setting, with a full eight-piece band in a more rock club atmosphere (as opposed to the five-piece configuration and community centre setting that time), they were more impressive. Lovely four-part harmonies and gentle yet swelling songs were still the order of the day, but the extra instrumentation gave them more dynamics and dimension. The grand scope of their sound recalls Sufjan Stevens, but rendered in woodcut and sepia. Lovely and enthralling. They have a new record set for self-release soon and are offering an old EP, Houndstooth, for free download from their site.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing bands with deep catalogs on tour between album cycles because they feel less obliged to promote a certain record and instead seem to just play what they enjoy, and that was very much the case here. You knew it wasn’t going to be the same old same old when the show opened with just Joey Burns and John Convertino taking the stage and ripping through the surf-punk instrumental “Scout” from their debut Spoke before being joined by the rest of the band for “Roka”, from their last effort, the underwhelming Garden Ruin. And with those bookends represented, the remainder of the set drew from Feast Of Wire, The Black Light and Hot Rail as well as previewing some material from Carried To Dust. The entire show was a joy start to finish, with one of the finest live bands around in a party mood and focusing on their more Mexicali-influenced and rollicking material. As the set went on, the band just got tighter and the groove deeper and damn if just about everyone wasn’t dancing, just a little.

As for the new material, it was a bit difficult to tell with a live mix that very much emphasized the guitars, drums and vocals (at least on my side of the stage) but the new songs seemed to maintain the more conventional, compact pop structures of Garden Ruin but incorporate much more of the distinctive southwestern instrumentation and flavour that is uniquely Calexico and which was far underutilized last time out. It sounds like they left the studio door open to let the sand blow in, and that’s pretty much all I could have asked for. I’m much more excited now for the release of Return To Dust and whether you believed they’d ever gone away or not, Calexico are back.

The Caliposa archive has the set list from Sunday night’s show and in advance of the new record, there’s a short preview video shot in their hometown of Tuscon now up.

Photos: Calexico, Woodpigeon @ The Mod Club – July 6, 2008
MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Calexico – “Convict Pool”
MP3: Calexico – “Alone Again Or”
MP3: Calexico – “Quattro (World Drifts In)”
MP3: Calexico – “Crystal Frontier”
MP3: Calexico – “The Black Light”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “In Praise Of The West Midlothian Bus Service”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Oberkampf”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel”
MySpace: Calexico
MySpace: Woodpigeon

And staying in Arizona for a bit, Giant Sand’s new one proVisions was originally supposed to come out in May, but since that obviously didn’t happen, fans can now look forward to it hitting stores on September 2 courtesy of Yep Roc.

One of the guests on said Giant Sand record is Neko Case, and she also lends her pipes to another record from a veteran performer dusting off a band name again after flying solo for a bit – Eric Bachmann and Crooked Fingers. Pitchfork has details on the new Crooked Fingers record Fortune/Forfeit, which is set for an October 7 release amidst touring that will find them at the Phoenix with Okkervil River later that week on October 12.

And checking in on she whose voice graced the last Crooked Fingers record Dignity & Shame – Ms Lara Meyerratken aka El May – she’s made some tracks from her ever-in-progress record available to stream on her site and her MySpace. Worth a listen.

An Aquarium Drunkard interviews Alejandro Escovedo.

David Berman of Silver Jews talks to BeatRoute. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 2.

Today, in Fleet Foxes news – they’ve released a new video (see below), have a recent gig streaming at NPR, are the subject of an interview with The Chicago Tribune and have been declared “Band of the Week” at Paste. They’re at the Phoenix on July 16 with Stephen Malkmus.

Video: Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”

It’s a foregone conclusion that Of Montreal will tour in support of their next album Skeletal Lamping after it’s released on October 7 but while only a handful of dates have been announced, Steve helpfully pointed out in yesterday’s comments that TicketMaster is already listing one of them in Toronto on October 28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre down at the CNE grounds. That’s not a commonly used venue, but it holds around 1300, seated. Because obviously you’d want to sit for Of Montreal. Tickets for that show are general admission, $25 and go on sale Friday.

I’d originally said The Walkmen’s September 10 show was at Lee’s Palace – in fact, it will be at the Horseshoe. Their next album You & Me will still be out August 19.

Rob Crow of Pinback gives Drowned In Sound a guide to writing the perfect pop song. Pinback will be at Lee’s Palace on October 7.

Pitchfork reports that Portastatic will be doing some housecleaning in the form a double-disc compilation chock full of rarities and covers and entitled Some Small History, due out September 9.

Merge is giving away free non-album MP3s from the likes of M Ward, Destroyer and Wye Oak. Because they’re swell.

Blurt congratulates Juliana Hatfield on the release of her tenth solo record, How To Walk Away, out August 19. She’ll also be releasing her memoirs in a tome entitled When I Grow Up and set to his stores September 29.

Pitchfork presents Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning presents Something For All Of Us… presents the video for “Hit The Wall”. Stores present the album July 22. Hillside presents Broken Social Scene on July 27.

Video: Brendan Canning – “Hit The Wall”

Chart talks to Young & Sexy.

The National Post points the way to the trailer for Generation Kill, the new Gulf War II-themed HBO miniseries from David Simon, the man behind The Wire. The seven-part series premieres next Sunday, July 13. Season five of The Wire is available on DVD on August 12.

Trailer: Generation Kill

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Chuck says:

    Hadn’t even heard about Generation Kill….it’ll take me a while getting used to seeing Ziggy in army fatigues (with Lee Tergesen!), but it looks like he’s having fun.

  2. Ronan says:

    Alone Again Or? What a cover. Thanks.