Calexico - Algiers
For every band like Arcade Fire or Sigur Ros that, through some small fortune, manages to carry its epic anthems into the hearts and households of music fans everywhere, there is also a Calexico; a band as readily ambitious and soaring but sorely overlooked by the mainstream. Algiers, their seventh album, is further evidence that this musically eclectic and talented troupe continue to refine a sturdy sound that fans will recognise as the one they've come to love, at the same time adding progressive new textures to make it a worthwhile endeavour.
Recorded in, and inspired by, the musical melting pot of New Orleans, Algiers (itself the neighbourhood where a large proportion of the album was recorded) is Americana writ big; this is country music but on a large scale, taking in various influences and melding something unique as a result. You'd have to be pretty daft to title your album opener 'Epic' and not deliver on the promise and, between this and string-drenched closer 'The Vanishing Mind', there is a wealth of material fans and newcomers can latch on to. The title track is a rootsy, bluesy instrumental that showcases the musicianship established by leads Joey Burns and John Convertino, while 'No Te Vayas' brings the band's Mexican tip to the forefront with Mariachi horns and authentic vocal. Similar in scope to 2006's career highlight Garden Ruin, this extension to the band's catalogue widens the vast horizons the music already so easily conjures but, despite the cinematic landscape, is unlikely to transform them beyond a cult concern.