Calexico: The Thread That Keeps Us

Mike Ayers on February 5, 2018

For more than 20 years now, Calexico has owned the desert-rock landscape with a subtle combination of Arthur Lee and Love-esque psychedelia meets mariachi meets country-rock. That sound has made for a robust catalog, one that’s been vastly underrated as far as their alt-country peers go. On the band’s ninth album, The Thread That Keeps Us, they expand their musical palette a bit more with some notable funky moments, along with some harsher electric tones too. Perhaps one of the things that contributed to this slight departure is that they recorded at Panoramic House, a studio they called “The Phantom Ship,” just north of San Francisco in Stinson Beach, a favorite hippie-haunt of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. You can hear the weirdness run through songs like the organ-and-horn tinged “Another Space,” where Joey Burns repeats “In another time, in another space in another way, we’ll get back to this place” over and over—something of a rare moment of repetition. And the swampy funk-driven “Flores Y Tamales,” sung in Spanish, is another standout moment where they get into a weird, untraditional groove. But Calexico is best when they’re doing their Calexico thing, on poignant ballads like “Girl in the Forest” and the groovy “Under the Wheels,” where Burns croons about today’s politically destructive mood, singing about war machines and the world falling apart. It’s moody, sure, but as the album title suggests, the sonic threads keeping Calexico together are here. They’re just a little looser now, with songs feeling a bit more immediate this time.

Artist: Calexico
Album: The Thread That Keeps Us
Label: Anti-