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Feast of Wire

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Calexico is Joey Burns and John Convertino of Giant Sand. Their fourth album is a masterpiece of beauty and diversity, with desert-rock guitar interplay to expansive noir-ish sweep to full-mariachi grandeur. 16 Tracks. Quarterstick. 2003.

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Unlike the ever-experimenting Lambchop, to whom they are often compared, Calexico stick to their niche. Since Calexico don't spring as many stylistic surprises on us as the sprawling Nashville ensemble, their track record is also less erratic. While Feast of Wireis a bit quieter than its three full-length predecessors, it also fits neatly into an ever-impressive body of work. John Convertino and Joey Burns--the Tucson band's core--only confirm their status as folk storytellers, their songs as irreducibly American as Cormac McCarthy novels, and their trademark Southwestern, sun-baked Ennio Morricone sound continues to be ambitiously timeless. "Black Heart," for instance, begins like a Portishead outtake before swelling majestically. Even when they shuffle styles ("Close Behind" marries '60s western grace with assured melodic chops, and "Attack El Robot! Attack!" goes off in an almost Devo-like direction before smoothly segueing into the full-on mariachi extravaganza of "Across the Wire"), they retain an immediately identifiable personality. Calexico may not make headlines, but this album solidifies their standing as one of the most endearingly idiosyncratic bands on the American scene. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sunken Waltz
  2. Quattro (World Drifts In)
  3. Stucco
  4. Black Heart
  5. Pepita
  6. Not Even Stevie Nicks...
  7. Close Behind
  8. Woven Birds
  9. The Book and the Canal
  10. Attack El Robot! Attack!
  11. Across The Wire
  12. Dub Latina
  13. Guero Canelo
  14. Whipping the Horse's Eyes
  15. Crumble
  16. No Doze


Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 18, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Quarter Stick
  • ASIN: B000089CPF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,400 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on April 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My first taste of Calexico was a song they did on a Lee Hazlewood tribute album. I was intrigued by their sound and decided to get one of their CDs to broaden my overview. For no particular reason, I settled on Feast of Wire.
There is a lot to like here, with a multitude of musical influences evident. Listening through, I swear at times I'm hearing Neil Young or Ennio Morricone. At other times, I hear the sounds of funk-soaked jazz soundtrack music a la Barry Adamson. And always around the corner one hears strains of the borderlands sounds that have come to be known as desert rock. Even the cover art is evocative of the southwestern frontier.
My favorite songs here are Sunken Waltz, Quattro, the Morricone-infused Close Behind, Dub Latina, Guero Canelo, and the Adamsonian soundtrack jazz of Crumble.
With Feast of Wire, Calexico offers a sweeping southwestern soundscape that will carry you far away from the cares of the day. I recommend this to anyone who is musically adventurous and has a taste for the borderlands in their blood.
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Format: Audio CD
Calexico have always been restless experimenters, juxtaposers and journeymen, crafting a unique fusion of bluesy Mariachi, desert-rock and jazz, and injecting healthy doses of experimentation into the otherwise straightforward records on which they've made guest appearances. Yet, for their innovation and distinctive sound, their albums have always had their weak spots-- moments in which their ideas seemed to be running away with the band's ability to execute them. That time has passed. All of Calexico's previous strengths come home to roost on Feast of Wire, the band pushing their experiments further than ever before and pulling each of them off unfalteringly. In short, Calexico have created their first genuinely masterful full-length, crammed with immediate songcraft, shifting moods and open-ended exploration.
A brief acoustic guitar figure and pounding waltz beat open things at a crisp gait. Joey Burns quickly intones with the lines, "Washed my face in the rivers of empire/ Made my bed with a cardboard crate," immediately establishing the tension of the borderline that pulls Calexico's music in its many directions. Burns is suddenly a singer-- he's always made do with what he had, but the limitations that were once so apparent have developed into a strong and confident tenor, assertive and emotive. The music behind him feels bolder and more courageous, too, as the veil of obscurity that guarded so much of their previous releases has vanished. The detail of this album is utterly stunning, as melodies rise against countermelodies, subtle electronic processing seals guitars in amber, and instruments blend in fascinating and unpredictable ways.
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Format: Audio CD
In a way the reviewer from Phoenix sums it all up, because if you believe in a world strictly divided into simple categories by intransigent boundaries, Calexico's music obviously isn't for you. Gringos shan't play with mariachi bands just as the white hillbilly kid from Tupelo, Miss., had no business stealing that negro groove (or even worse, their gospel music), Robert Zimmerman turned into Judas when he picked up the electric guitar and Sandy Koufax should have been driven off the mound because Jews don't play baseball. Boundaries are easy ways out for those who want to avoid the harder task of judging a work on its merit rather than by the classifiers it reinforces or breaches, and Calexico have always made it their business to negate the borderline that separates the Sonoran desert into a Calexican and a Mexicali part (which might explain in part why they're so much more popular in boundary-infested Europe than in their home country).
For those who appreciate Calexico for who they are, this album is amazing. For most of the album Calexico's high wire (sic) act between the populist and the intricate works out perfectly, and unlike some of the earlier albums Feast of Wire actually flows. Sunken Waltz and Quattro find a perfect way to match the groove of the music and the sobriety of the message, and Black Heart even manages to top this feat. Ironically, for the most part the mariachi elements are muted and make place for a more pronounced European influence: the string arrangements on Black Heart and Close Behind recall Goldfrapp, Yann Tiersen or Francoiz Breut's stunning Vingt a Trente Mille Jours rather than Mariachi Luz de Luna. (Again, the influences here are mutual and far from a crowd-pleasing career move.
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Format: Audio CD
Feast of Wire bends the alt. country genre, literally past the border!

Swelling with Mariachi horns and latin rhythms, this monster of an album really is a veritable feast!

Calexico kicked around for years testing the waters and playing with their border crossing sounds until finally providing the album of genius they'd always been capable of.

Its got country, folk, mariachi, salsa and even jazz at times. But it maintains a gritty alterantive ethic the whole way through.

Its got plenty of twang, but doesnt fall into any genre traps or monotony. The variety is constantly engaging, yet the album has a fantastic coherency.

Calexico are expanding the musical palette of alternative artists in the south, and are melding their very own brand of Americana.
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