Calexico w/ The Acorn, Saturday, November 22nd, Fine Line Music Café, 18+ , 8 PM, $17 adv/$20 day of show
Calexico is not an indie band for your snotty little brother. There's no day-glo, no coke, no rockstar posturing. There are no diss tracks, no Auto-Tuned vocals, no trashed hotel rooms reeking of whiskey and strippers. Instead, there are focus and craft, subtlety and artistic ambition. For those who like their rock 'n' roll less in-your-face and more in-your-bedroom, Calexico offers a wide breadth of material spanning the better part of twelve years, using musical touchstones like country, folk, tejano, and jazz to conjure up expressive songs that pulse with Southwestern Americana. It's not a soundtrack for cold urban backstreets, it's a love letter to dusty desert highways.
You might be able to tell their trajectory from a short list of their recent collaborators and tourmates (Neko Case, Wilco, and Iron & Wine stand out), but the very best way to get a firm grasp on what makes Calexico special is to witness them live. It's a trance-inducing showcase of talent, founded on a bedrock of organic musical prowess instead of chic digital manipulation -- the word "classic" springs to mind, both in terms of their presentation and the sounds that they coax out of their instruments. Calexico is popular precisely because they avoid flash-in-the-pan trends, zeroing in on a vision that comes across as timeless and warm as a well-placed shot of tequila on a summer evening. Right now, in the beginning throes of a Minnesota winter, why wouldn't you gather up all the warmth you can get your hands on?
-- Ian Traas