Feast of Wire

Feast of Wire

3.0 1
by Calexico
     
 

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This Tucson, Arizona, combo craft subtle rock with a cinematic, distinctly Southwestern bent. The band's primaries -- guitarist-singer Joey Burns and percussionist John Convertino -- first came together in Howe Gelb's long-running underground rock band Giant Sand and have played sidemen to Richard Buckner, LisaSee more details below

Overview

This Tucson, Arizona, combo craft subtle rock with a cinematic, distinctly Southwestern bent. The band's primaries -- guitarist-singer Joey Burns and percussionist John Convertino -- first came together in Howe Gelb's long-running underground rock band Giant Sand and have played sidemen to Richard Buckner, Lisa Germano, and others, but they forge their own identity as Calexico, marrying influences such as Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone to the moody rock on their resume. On Feast of Wire, their fourth album, Burns and Convertino continue to flex their stylistic muscles, drifting from the crafted melody of "Not Even Stevie Nicks..." to the dramatic sweep of "Black Heart," replete with a string section and gnarls of guitar feedback, with the cool of a Tecate on a desert night. Burns takes the mike more often than on previous, instrumental-heavy releases, shining in the spotlight on "Quattro (World Drifts In)," but sonic textures remain Calexico's focus. The instrumental "Close Behind" is a real theme from an imaginary western, the horns and strings playing backdrop to acoustic guitar and accordion, while "Attack El Robot! Attack!," another Latin-flavored instrumental, finds Burns and Convertino sounding a little like the Latin Playboys, gluing a guitar lick to a loping rhythm and smearing the results with horns and production tweaks. The same vibe carries through to "Dub Latina," which joins post-rock strains and flamenco-tinged guitar, while on the jazzy "Crumble," the boys take a backseat to their brass section, allowing for horn solos and even a guitar solo from Nick Luca. Throughout Feast of Wire, these southwestern sonic pioneers stake out new ground, guided by an adventurous spirit and a playful ear.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Feast of Wire does indeed offer a tantalizing array of sounds new and old from Calexico, including more pop-oriented takes on their already eclectic style as well as some different sonic twists. Though the album features plenty of the atmospheric interludes of their previous work -- such as the squelchy, piano-based "Stucco" and the cello- and pedal-steel-driven "Whipping the Horse's Eye" -- the overall feel of Feast of Wire is one of restraint and refinement. The album's longest song, the gorgeous, film noir/spaghetti western fusion "Black Heart," tops out at just under five minutes, and the vast majority of the tracks barely make it past the three-minute mark -- not enough time for experimentation to turn into self-indulgence. However, it feels like these shorter compositions have more impact: "Sunken Waltz" sketches a vignette of Southwestern despair with just acoustic guitar, brushed drums, accordion, and Joey Burns' papery vocals. Burns' voice plays a larger part on Feast of Wire than on previous Calexico albums, adding a humble charm to sweeping songs like "Quattro (World Drifts In)." Despite its seeming limitations, Burns' small, parched-sounding instrument is surprisingly versatile, lending a Dylan-like cast to the aforementioned "Black Heart" and a Dean Wareham-like drawl to the lilting Tex-Mex melody of "Across the Wire." Burns' vocals also dominate Feast of Wire's most uniquely accessible moments: "Stevie Nicks," a surprisingly, sunny bit of folk-rock, and the quiet, alt-country-ish "Woven Birds." But despite the steps forward Calexico makes on this album, the band still has time for their more traditional, instrumental-based music, exemplified here by "Dub Latina," "Pepita," and "Guero Canelo." The second half of Feast of Wire in particular sounds more like what you'd expect from a Calexico album, and the group touches on the different facets of that style, including the kitschy-cool "Attack el Robot! Attack," which with its crunchy drums and gurgling synths, does sort of sound like it could be from a Mexican sci-fi movie; the shuffling Latin beat, pedal steel, and mod horns on "Close Behind" give it a Morricone-meets-mariachi feel that makes it a quintessential Calexico track; and best of all, "Crumble" builds on the smoky, jazzy side of their sound that they began developing in earnest on The Hot Rail. In the hands of a lesser band, all the different sounds Calexico explore on Feast of Wire could result in a mish-mash of an album, but fortunately for them and their fans, it's one of their most accomplished and exciting efforts.
Blender - John Ratliff
[Calexico] celebrates a sonic Southwest that exists only in the movies.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/18/2003
Label:
Quarter Stick
UPC:
0036172007820
catalogNumber:
78
Rank:
53657

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Calexico   Primary Artist
Joey Burns   Synthesizer,Guitar,Mandolin,Percussion,Accordion,Cello,Vocals,Melodica,Vibes,Pump Organ,cuatro,Upright Bass,Orchestra Bells,Bowed Banjo
John Convertino   Percussion,Piano,Drums
Ed Kay   Flute
Craig Schumacher   Synthesizer,Trumpet,Background Vocals,Timpani
Paul Niehaus   Pedal Steel Guitar
Nick Luca   Synthesizer,Piano,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Vibes
Fernando Valencia   Violin
Eddie Lopez   Button Accordion
Jacob Valenzuela   Trumpet,Vocals
Martin Wenk   Trumpet,Accordion,Bowed Vibes
Volker Zander   Upright Bass

Technical Credits

Joey Burns   Producer,String Arrangements
John Convertino   Producer
Craig Schumacher   Producer,Engineer
Victor Gastelum   Cover Art
Nick Luca   Engineer,String Arrangements
J.J. Golden   Mastering

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