Calexico The Book and the Canal

Of the three "tour only” records that Calexico have featured on merch tables around the world (and have also made available on their website), one live album was a nice treat but nothing compared to 2001’s Aerocalexico and now The Book and the Canal. Truly process-oriented, these collections of works-in-progress and b-side sketches are not proper albums but rather an intimate peek at a band stretching its legs and sussing songs out. Book songs like the tellingly-titled folk of "Half a Smidge” and the Duke Ellington-flavoured jazz of "What’s a Little Wait” are informal and loose, while it’d be no shock if "Griptape” appears as is on an official release some time after this spring’s Garden of Ruin. Fans may recognise a mutated version of "Ghostwriter” from the band’s live show, where the song pays greater tribute to Neil Young’s score for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. Calexico are more experimental on the found sounds of "Unter Unserem Himmel,” "Electric Relay,” and a creaky, live version of the seemingly improvised "Painted Over.” Though uneven by nature, The Book and the Canal is a pleasant gift for Calexico fans itching for new songs and fresh insight as to how this remarkable ensemble operates. (BelowMeMusic)