Calexico
The Thread that Keeps Us


3.3
great

Review

by insomniac15 STAFF
January 28th, 2018 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A chill, Sunday afternoon listen...

After years of transition, Calexico settled into a comfortable alternative rock territory, where Americana, jazzy, folk, reggae and Latino music are interspersed influences coloring the output. The group’s previous effort, Edge of the Sun was arguably the most straightforward affair whose strengths were mainly the melodic rhythms and Joey Burns’ sweet voice. Past them, there was less to discover than on previous gems such as Feast of Wire, The Black Light or even Carried to Dust and Algiers (which although steering towards the current style, had an utterly gripping atmosphere). The latest LP, The Thread that Keeps Us ventures a bit off-road, but it doesn’t really feel like wandering into the unknown.

It’s true that Calexico sound a tad more passionate here and the music is slightly less polished, yet we are offered another jukebox experience that has its ups and downs of course. Highlights include mainly the tense & more diverse tunes. ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ has an anxious drum beat, over which staccato guitar lines punctuate very nicely, while Joey’s concerned vocals build an uncanny vibe. Meanwhile, the hazy ‘Eyes Wide Awake’ brings back some of that cinematic value the band’s music has always had, but got a bit lost in the background lately. The dreamy melody, enhanced by a deep bass line and shrilling slide leads, creates a lovely mid-album peak. Also, Burns switches to great effect from his usual warm croon to a higher pitched lament. Then, there’s the lounge ditty called ‘Girl in the Forest’, where soothing acoustic strums pair with jazzy percussion as well as discreet piano chords. The late night, piano bar feel reflected here musically is a perfect counterpart to the huge sounding, sing-along choruses that have been their focus in recent years. Moreover, ‘Flores y Tamales’, the obligatory Latino cut on each album, is definitely worth mentioning. Jairo Zavala’s beautiful voice plays smoothly alongside cheery brass sections, plus the chorus is downright infectious. I hope the guys will one day record an entire album of Latino tracks, because they always get them right.

The rest of the record is filled with different alternative rock/indie numbers that range from interesting to your average Calexico tracks. It sounds a bit harsh saying it like that, as there is nothing actually bad on The Thread that Keeps Us. It’s just them playing safe and sweet. ‘End of the World with You’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Falling from the Sky’, boasting a nice groove with beautiful vocals. There’s always an unsettling story behind most of the band’s songs and I still admire how easy they can trick you with their cuteness. The LP was recorded in Los Angeles amid wildfires and the inevitable political/social strife. As a result, the stories about immigrants, criminals, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, ecological disasters and whatnots will always ring a bell when it comes to the US (and other first world countries). ‘Voices in the Field’ is a nice song capable of starting a flash mob in a market place, whereas the lyrics talk about burned homes and losing someone dear to you. Moreover, the delicate, swaying ‘The Town & Miss Lorraine’ is a ‘60s-like pop tune soaked in the protagonist’s nostalgia. I am sure Casey Crescenzo would love this one. Probably the biggest surprise here is the chunky ‘Dead in the Water’, where a cocky guitar riff drowns Joey’s voice. It’s an interesting detour, reminiscing the harder moments on Garden Ruin, albeit in a more settled way.

In the end, The Thread that Keeps Us is a good Calexico record, still it doesn’t have outstanding peaks. It flows gently down the stream, yet besides a few memorable moments (all of them coming from the band’s comfort zone) there’s nothing to go crazy about. I am happy they are so consistent and know not to make bad decisions sound-wise. Nevertheless, I would love them going back to more thrilling adventures. I have confidence the group can still take us by surprise, I only hope it will be soon.




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user ratings (14)
Chart.
3
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2018


4508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Good record with few special tracks.



Here's a playlist containing all the songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Xq2CnmSB_M&list=PLYd7ti-nmzOK5pVVQHXyeA3pFgg-3iu7I

Digging: Church of the Cosmic Skull - Science Fiction

Crawl
January 29th 2018


2504 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm enjoying this quite a bit. The first track is beautiful.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2018


4508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Agreed

Crawl
January 29th 2018


2504 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm feeling a 3.5. I thought more people would be into this.

zakalwe
January 29th 2018


25030 Comments


Underrated band, quality discog but a few misses. This is deffo better than their last one.

theBoneyKing
January 29th 2018


14593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I’ve just been getting into their discog, this is the first post-Feast of Wire album I’ve heard, can’t say I prefer this direction but there are a few gems for sure.

Digging: Beach House - 7

Trophycase
January 29th 2018


642 Comments


Love the song Fade, so I will check out this record.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2018


4508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

@Crawl - I see there are lots of new albums this week, most probably Calexico got lost in between them. Or maybe they aren't interesting anymore.



@theBoneyKing - Listen to Algiers or Carried to Dust, they are a lot more interesting than this one.

dbizzles
January 30th 2018


11382 Comments


Nice review. Will check. Never quite been able to get into these guys. Like their collab with Sam Beam and listen to Carried to Dust now and again. Won tickets to see them live, which was a blast. But otherwise they just don't quite keep my attention.

Digging: The Body - I have fought against it, But I can?t any longer

Ikarus14
January 31st 2018


1126 Comments


I was only introduced to this band by the comedy film The Guard. Hell of a soundtrack they did for that film. Might check this out.

theBoneyKing
January 31st 2018


14593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Last two tracks are stunners.

Trophycase
February 6th 2018


642 Comments


Eyes Wide Awake sounds so much like Where Is My Mind that it's hard to hear the actual song.

Kompys2000
February 6th 2018


1433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Opener is p good, rest is nice but forgettable

theBoneyKing
May 1st 2018


14593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Snagged a ticket to see them tonight. Hoping they play some of the older stuff.



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