Calexico's stunning Feast of Wire was one of my favorite albums of 2003, a unique and wonderful assimilation of indie-rock, jazz, and mariachi that couldn't help but bring the listener into the dusty deserts of the American Southwest, dancing the waltz and drinking Coronas. It's a sound you have to hear to believe, but once you hear it, you're inevitably hooked. Calexico's latest offering is Convict Pool, a six-song EP of European singles featuring three covers and three original songs. While Calexico's sound hasn't changed too much from Feast of Wire, this EP will certainly tide over Calexico enthusiasts who can't wait for the band's next album; the covers are fun and interesting, and the originals continue on in Calexico's tradition of fine songwriting.
The covers Calexico chose for this EP are given a new and exciting twist with their signature mariachi style. The opening track, "Alone Again Or," was originally a love song featured in the Wes Anderson movie Bottle Rocket. Calexico's version, while the most similar to the original of all the covers, still more than does the song justice, and it's probably my favorite track on the EP. "Corona," a Minutemen cover, is another high point of the album; the use of various horns and strings make this energetic song an absolute joy. Meanwhile, the three original tracks included on the EP again spotlight Calexico's knack for instrumentation. "Praskovia" is purely instrumental, with a circus-like theme built around a dynamic accordion melody, an instrument that bands like Calexico and the Decemberists have triumphantly brought back into modern music.
The songs on Convict Pool, while not necessarily as fresh and experimental as those on Feast of Wire, should more than satisfy Calexico's fans as well as spark the interest of those who may not yet be familiar with the band. Convict Pool shows that Calexico's musical capacity hasn't waned since the release of their recent, finest album, and hopefully what's to come will be just as stimulating.
1. Alone again or
2. Convict Pool
3. Si tu disais