Calexico Garden Ruin

As far as musical departures go, Calexico’s shift on Garden Ruin is as nuanced as any sounds on their idiosyncratic releases. Here they’ve gone a bit rock, sacrificing much of the jazzy grooves and Fado-inspired western tones that have infiltrated their twang-y sonic make-up for all these years. Instead, Joey Burns and John Convertino focus more on songs and less on sounds than ever before with grand results. Burns’ imagery is as vivid as ever on "Cruel” and "Bisbee Blue,” but there’s a specificity present that has eluded some of his past work. Personal and political ideals are explored on songs like "Yours and Mine” and the startlingly poppy "Letter to Bowie Knife.” The music itself is no less compelling, an earthy folk rock stew that makes full use of the band’s remarkable touring configuration. The musical builds in "Panic Open String” and "All Systems Red” are powerful for their subtle textures and unexpected turns. Stylistically, Calexcio are as fearless as they’ve ever been and, while Garden Ruin’s accessibility may surprise some fans, it truly captures the sound of a great band evolving organically. (Quarterstick)