In the late 90s and early years of this century, the Tucson, Arizona-based band Calexico was one of the most interesting ones of the indie rock world. Their unique Mexican music tainted folk rock was one that could be heard in many CD players of youngsters that wanted to hit the roads and discover the world.

Why do you travel at 20? Because you are curious to see the world, obviously, but sometimes to escape a broken heart, an non-reciprocal love or simply emotions that take too much place in your life. When Joey Burns sang “One Day My Heart Sank When I Saw Madam in Town / I Knew Her Love Would Be The Death of Mine” on the brilliant The Ballad of Cable Hogue, a sensible auditor will strongly relate. The Madam answers the narrateur, in French: “L’amour passé, l’amour obsolète / Pourquoi passer sa vie à chercher l’or d’un coeur? / Je ne me noierai pas dans ce désert mystique / Je ferme mes comptes et je repars”, she says, with a mix of anger, determination and (also unadmitted) broken heart.

 

Brilliant storytelling, great desert music ambiance and original arrangements (the jazzy Fade) were the ingredients that Burns and John Convertino mastered in those years, with Calexico. The band took the time to build moods, nailing tex-mex instrumentals (El Picador, to start the album), with warm horns or accordion (Untitled III).

“Hot Rail” isn’t a series of songs; it’s the soundtrack of a broken world. More than an album, it’s a place to go when escape is needed. There’s music to make your mind wander and there’s music to whip oneself to move on (Sonic Wind, a song that sound like dEUS’s from the same period).

“Hot Rail” was Calexico’s third studio album and was entirely written and recorded by Burns (who played bass, guitar, cello, voice, loops, congas, accordion, organ) and Convertino (drums, vibes, marimba, organ, percussion, accordion) alone, at WaveLab Studio, Tucson, AZ.

CALEXICO
Hot Rail
(Quarterstick Records, 2000)

-Genre: tex-mex Americana indie rock

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.