Calexico

Aerocalexico

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AllMusic Review by

This is one of the better odds and ends collections you'll run across from any band -- with one or two more vocal tracks, and a pinch more of their mariachi-surf-Ennio Morricone signature sound; this tour/website disc would be indistinguishable from the band's official releases and arguably as good. That's because Aerocalexico is home to some of the band's best songs, B-sides, and compilation entries, like the hard-driving "Crooked Road & the Briar," the holiday song "Gift X-Change," covers of the traditional ("All the Pretty Horses"), Nick Drake's "Clothes of Sand," and yet another version of "Crystal Frontier" (the band's EP, Even My Sure Things Fall Through, features two more versions). Many of the vocal-less interludes may be little more than studio snippets that don't amount to too much taken out of context (eight of the 23 tracks are under one minute long), but woven together they form a cohesive quilt for the traditional songs, and some of the more elaborate instrumentals. Some of the soundscapes stand on their own quite well, offering a compendium of the Calexico stylebook: "Blacktop" features tape loops, synth wash, and a slightly distorted nylon-stringed guitar accompanying the grizzled voice of Southwest historian and author Lawrence Clark Powell; "Impromptu for Piano & Contrabass" is a moody, Erik Satie-inspired composition showcasing the classical leanings of bandleaders Joey Burns (contrabass), and John Convertino (piano); the desert noir-like "Sequoia" is an evocative, image-conjuring soundtrack; and the full-band treatment that Goldfrapp's "Humano" gets morphs it from an electronica James Bond homage into a jazz-inflected, instrumental rave-up. Calexico is one of indie rock's more imaginative musical collectives, and Aerocalexico is a wide-ranging document of their talents and influences, despite its humble origins.

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