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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

CD Review-Calexico: Garden Ruin

By Isaiah Smith/entertainment editor

Tucson, Ariz., indie-band Calexico releases its fifth studio album Garden Ruin. Eclectic musical influences and breathy vocals make this CD yet another strikingly different and beautiful album from Joey Burns and John Convertino, the core members of Calexico.

“ This album was a conscious decision to try something new,” Burns said on the band’s official Web site, “and tap into strains in our musical fabric that haven’t been highlighted in the past.”

Since the band’s formation, Convertino and Burns have been the constant members. The duo looked to producer JD Foster for help with this album.

Foster got to know the band on recordings they did with Richard Buckner, Nancy Sinatra and Laura Cantrell and previously produced albums for Marc Ribot and Richmond Fontaine.

“ We liked the variety in his work,” Burns said on the Web site. “His choices for production have been focused on songs and are … very adventurous in details, using unusual percussion, or wanting to bring in instruments like banjo, ukeleles, bass melodica, electric mandolin and tenor guitar.”

This eclectic sound shines on Garden Ruin’s first single “Cruel,” a commentary on environmental corruption. The vocals are pure and melodic with strumming guitar back-beats; a piano highlights the chorus.

My favorite track is the lilting song “Panic Open String,” a good single. The music is upbeat without losing the tenderness Calexico was going for.

Calexico can even sound good in a different language. “Nom de Plume,” sung entirely in French, will enchant listeners bringing them closer to their speakers to try and catch the meaning of soft vocals.

“ Nom de Plume” might be a good single too, despite its being in French, because it will really stand out on the radio.

This whole album is fairly light. Garden Ruin does not rock much, but on some tracks Calexico’s rocker edge shines through.

“ Letter To Bowie Knife” starts out like the others, low, soft and lilting before kicking it up a notch and rocking out.

“ I’ve finally come back around to enjoying a simple rock beat while praying for some roll in there as well,” Convertino said.

“ Lucky Dime” rolls just great with drums giving a solid foundation for the mid-range vocals. The guitar is very plucky on this track with a distinct acoustic feel.

Overall, Garden Ruin is a soft, edgy album with great vocals. I give it four stars.

This indie-band deserves a moment in the spotlight even if Clear Channel spits them out for actually sounding different.

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