Calexico Algiers

After forging a sound synonymous with their hot and dusty Arizona homebase, Joey Burns, John Convertino, et al., have taken a side-trip on their eighth album to the muggier atmosphere of New Orleans. Algiers shares its title with the town on the other side of the Mississippi River where the album was recorded, and from the outset there's a much livelier kick to the songs, as opposed to the more atmospheric elements for which Calexico have become known. The arrangements are still large – horns, strings, pedal steel, Acetone organ, vibraphone and twangy guitar all gloriously intermingle – and when concentrated on powerful songs like "Splitter" and "Sinner In The Sea," demonstrate the band at the top of their writing game. Surprisingly, the new recording location accentuates Calexico's Latin flavours, and trumpeter Jacob Valenzuela asserts himself more than ever, especially on the hypnotic "Puerto" and the tango of "No Te Vas." Algiers finally takes Calexico to the cradle of where their sound ultimately originated. But instead of taking the easy route of creating a love letter to New Orleans, the band went in the opposite direction, continuing to lead American music into the future. (Anti)