Calexico

Record review

ACL Fest Reviews

Calexico

Convict Pool (Quarterstick/Touch & Go) It may only be a six-song EP split evenly between originals and covers, but Calexico's most recent release offers a potent distillation of the band's far-reaching desert charms. We begin with the Tucson-based troupe's take on Love's "Alone Again Or," originally released last year as a European single. Eschewing orchestration to focus on the song's flamenco derivation, the result is a revelatory-yet-faithful gem that nearly matches the emotive heft of Bryan MacLean's original and renders the Damned's version superfluous. The sweeping title track features a rising, assertive vocal from Joey Burns complemented by John Convertino's perfectly placed percussive rumbles. Their take on French singer Françoiz Breut's "Si Tu Disais" is a tumbleweed-dodging blacktop waltz driven by a faraway steel guitar, yet it's Calexico's version of the Minutemen's "Corona" (aka the Jackass theme) that's the most fully realized cover here. Superbly fleshed out with horns and strings, the song conjures images of D. Boon, Watt, and George discussing just such an arrangement as they composed it. The accordion-driven instrumental "Praskovia" jumps from Mexico to the heart of Bohemia, and "Sirena" is a rollicking, trumpet-accented tale about the dangers of immolating passion. Convict Pool includes a bonus video from Cartoon Network's El Kabong Rides Again scored with "Minas de Cobre" from 1998's The Black Light. It's a stopgap, sure, but a damn fine one. (Sunday, 1:45pm, Bank of America stage)

***

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