New Calexico Album Due in Early September 2012!

Thanks to a post in the Yahoo Casa de Calexico group and thanks to my multi-lingual friend Brian at work, we find out from a posting on their European management’s site that Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico have started work on a new album — their first new studio release since their 2008 album on Quarterstick Carried to Dust. The album is due out on City Slang (Calexico’s European label) in the early part of September.

Here is a rough translation of the first part of the press release:

After a several-year break due to changes in their private lives,  the two leaders of [Calexico] are hard at work in the studio on new material. In fall 2012 Calexico will be back with a new album and two European tours.

The new album by the band appears in early September on City Slang; directly after the album release the band will play the first [of the two] European tours.

This is pretty exciting news! It will be interesting to see where they take the new album stylistically. Although it is true that they took a break from Calexico, they have been pretty busy since 2008. They have worked with Amos Lee on his last album, Iron and Wine on the “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” contribution to the Twilight soundtrack, and the wonderful vinyl box set of their tour releases Road Atlas as well as a bunch of other work that I’m probably forgetting.

Watch my site for any updates as the story progresses! Here’s hoping for a U.S. tour!

(Upcoming Release) Calexico Maps Alternate History in “Road Atlas” Vinyl Box Set Out 11/22/11

 

The dusty desert highway of Tuscon-native band Calexico’s 15-year career is dotted with a notable collection of passionate Latin infused Americana (for lack of another general category to place them). While the band may not be familiar to most, their music shows up in many places– from interstitial music in NPR to movie soundtracks and in their many collaborations (including one fantastic album with The Iron and Wine). If only for these works, Calexico will stand as one of the important and influential American bands.

Along this same highway of releases are the roadside attractions of Calexico’s self-released albums. These generally “tour-only” albums were released under Calexico’s own imprint Our Soil, Our Strength and served sometimes as a clearing house of studio demos and projects that didn’t make it to other albums, live albums or other experiments. Ironically, maybe, it was through one of these albums that I was first exposed to Calexico. Someone posted the instrumental collection Travelall as mp3’s on the internet newsgroup alt.binaries.sounds.mp3 which left me initially of the opinion that Calexico was an instrumental post-rock similar to Tortoise. (I didn’t know it at the time, but Travelall has Thrill Jockey artists Rob Mazurek (Isotope 217, Chicago Underground), Doug McCombs (Tortoise, Brokeback, etc.), and Noel Kupersmith (Brokeback, Chicago Underground Quartet) on it which lends some weight to that idea).

This misconception was quickly dismissed with the 2006 release of Garden Ruin which quickly made me a fan of the band and motivated me to get all of their albums, including the tour-only releases which were all limited releases and quickly fell out of print, so I had to resort to Amazon and eBay to track the ones down I couldn’t get from the band’s website and from the band during the Garden Ruin tour. All of these releases are essential to the fan of Calexico, as they provide valuable insight to the band’s creative workouts. Not forced into an album format that would have appeal to a more casual listener, we are treated to a much richer view into the true heart of the band which include an audio treasure trove of atmospheric instrumentals, audio experiments, home demos, live performances, one-off collaborations and outtakes.

After the announcement of Touch and Go/Quarterstick records– Calexico’s US label– in early 2009 that they would stop distribution of albums for a while I was concerned about the future of the band’s releases. The label managed to squeak the brilliant Carried to Dust in 2008, but that wasn’t the last release from the band– they put out the live album Live at Ancienne Belgique in 2009 on their own label, and produced the soundtracks to the documentary Circo, and the soundtrack to Don Cheadle-Brendan Gleeson Irish crime flick The Guard.

So, you can imagine my excitement hearing that Calexico is releasing a vinyl box set titled Road Atlas 1998-2011. Encased in a cloth hardbound box and limited to 1,100 hand-numbered sets, Road Atlas 1998-2011 collects the tour-only releases, plus the aforementioned live release and the Circo soundtrack as well as a 40-page book by music journalist Fred Mills. In addition to the 12-LP’s, the box will include mp3-downloads of all the tracks, PLUS BONUS other unreleased music not found on the LP’s or the band’s regular releases! Here is the breakdown:

ROAD ATLAS 1998-2011
Limited Edition Hand Numbered 12 LP vinyl boxset of Calexico’s tour only CDs
Includes:
98-99 Road Map LP (originally released on CD 1999)
Travelall LP (originally released on CD 2000)
Aerocalexico 2xLP (originally released on CD 2001)
Scraping 2xLP (originally released on CD 2002)
The Book And The Canal 2xLP (originally released on CD 2005)
Toolbox LP (originally released on CD 2007)
Ancienne Belgique-Live in Brussels 2008 2xLP (originally released on CD 2008)
Circo- A Soundtrack By Calexico LP (originally released on CD 2010)
MP3 download codes for all the albums
MP3 download code for previously unreleased Calexico tracks
A 40-page perfect bound book of photos, handwritten notes, and extensive liner notes
A heavy duty, linen wrapped, screen-printed slip case to house it all!

Priced at around $130, the box will be available via the band’s website, Touch and Go, Amazon and Insound.com. For those that don’t want to drop that kind of cash, there is also a great compilation CD of tracks from the box available as well.

I created a special 32-minute mix of tracks from the box to get you in the mood including these tracks:

“Hushabye” from Aerocalexico
“Ghost Writer” from The Book and the Canal
“Waitomo” from Toolbox
“Escrito En La Piedra” from Circo
“Two Silver Trees” from Anceinne Belgique – Live in Brussels 2008
“Dona Lupe” from Circo
“Chachaca” from Travelall
“Griptape” from The Book and the Canal
“Wind Up Bird” from Scraping
“Glowing Heart of the World” from 98-99 Road Map

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ROAD ATLAS MIX – A MIX BY PLAYBSIDES.COM

Upcoming Show: Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore at CSPS 3/15/10

Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore— according to the press-releases– met after Ben Sollee– a classically trained cellist and member of Abigail Washburn‘s Sparrow Quartet– stumbled upon Moore’s MySpace page and listened to the music there. Daniel Martin Moore was signed to SubPop records in 2007 on the power of an unsolicited demo. He released his first album Stray Age on SubPop in 2008.

Both Sollee and Moore as well as producer/collaborator Yim Yames (aka Jim James from My Morning Jacket) are from Kentucky and have a shared concern in the mountain top removal that occurs in coal mining in their state today. Sollee and Moore have chosen to take the proceeds of their first collaboration together– their album titled Dear Companion (on SubPop) and donate them to Appalachian Voices. Appalachian Voices is an organization hoping to bring awareness to and end mountain top removal coal mining. They have a really interesting application on their website that shows you how your local utility company contributes to Mountain Top Removal.

The little bit I’ve had a chance to listen to Dear Companion leaves me with the opinion that their stripped-down folk and bluegrass melange is reminiscent of Nick Drake and a little like labelmate The Iron and Wine. An impressive collaboration and very worth checking out.

Sollee and Moore will be performing at CSPS in Cedar Rapids on Monday, March 15th at 7PM. Joining Sollee and Moore on stage will be percussionist Dan Dorff and violinist Cheyenne Mize.  Tickets are $11 in advance and $15 at the door.

Click Here for the Legion Arts webpage about the Dear Companion show.

Click Here to listen to their Daytrotter Session.

Click Here for the Dear Companion website.

Click Here for the Appalachian Voices website.

B-Sides in the Bins #48 – Best Buy & Half Price Books – Cedar Rapids 5/19/09

I was at Best Buy for the release of the Iron and Wine collection of rare and b-sides called Around the Well.  I had a $15 Reward Zone certificate. But, since the 2 CD release was $9.99 I needed to buy something else to bring it over the $15. I picked up Woman King by the Iron and Wine as well which was $7.99.  Ever since I picked up the live Iron and Wine Record Store Day release, I’ve been trying to get caught up with Mr. Beam.

Since I was on that side of town anyway, I stopped in to Half Price Books to see if anything interesting was in the bins.

BestBuy Purchases:

Around the Well – Iron and Wine (2 CD, SubPop SPCD 808, 2009) ($9.99) Great collection and replaces the need to try to track down all of the singles, soundtracks (The “Twilight” soundtrack… “In Good Company”… yikes) as well as the iTunes Exclusives, which have now been pulled down, presumably because of this release. Lots of great songs on here– Sam Beam is so prolific that even his b-sides are quality tracks.

Woman King EP – Iron and Wine (CD, SubPop SPCD 665, 2005)($7.99) This is probably my favorite release next to 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. Every song on here is a keeper.  Jim Becker from Califone is on this release which helps fill out the sound of the band.

Half Price Books Purchases:

The Bumper Crop – Pell Mell (LP, SST 158, 1987)($2.98) Holy crap! Certainly wasn’t expecting this in the bins. A corner-cut cut out. The bad cut job also caused a tear in the cover. You might know me in my other internet job as the guy who runs the official Pell Mell website so I collect things Pell Mell. The work for this album started in 1982 after the remaining members of Pell Mell moved to Berkeley, CA following the tour for their debut EP Rhyming Guitars. The songs for this release came from some outtakes recorded for the EP and some new material with new members Greg Freeman and Steve Fisk. This trio of Fisk, Freeman and Bob Beerman would form the basis for the remainder of Pell Mell’s career which ended after their 1997 album Star City. Pell Mell was influenced by the instrumental rock bands of the sixties and a lot of the instrumental rock bands around today (El Ten Eleven, The Six Parts Seven come to mind) owe Pell Mell for blazing the trail for them.

(self titled) – The Cars (LP, Elektra/Asylum 6E-135, 1978)($2.98)

Candy-O – The Cars (LP, Elektra/Asylum 5E-507, 1979)($2.98)

Panorama – The Cars (LP, Elektra/Asylum 5E-514, 1980)($2.98)

Shake It Up – The Cars (LP, Elektra/Asylum 5E-567, 1981($2.98)

Heartbeat City – The Cars (LP, Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch ST-E-60296-1, 1984)($2.98) This was a pretty impressive haul! Someone dumped their Cars collection apparently. All of the records were in  fantastic shape with little to no cover wear. All inner sleeves were intact and the vinyl was pristine! There was actually two copies of Heartbeat City there, so I picked the best-looking one. The copy of Heartbeat City that was around my house when it came out was a cassette. The vinyl version was a very nice gatefold sleeve. The only records that were missing were the Greatest Hits and their last record Door to Door.

We also had Candy-O on cassette at the house.  With its combination of pop and New Wave sensibilities coupled with the Alberto Vargas pinup cover it was an intriquing album. That was their second album, and  it had the big singles “Let’s Go” and “It’s All I Can Do.” It seemed that the Cars were all over the radio and movie soundtracks. Some of the big hits from The Cars are still some of the great pop songs of all time. This selection of albums represents the peak of The Cars creative output. Just looking at the track list from 1985’s Greatest Hits album proves it: “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Good Times Roll”– all from The Cars; “Let’s Go” from Candy-O; “Touch and Go” from Panorama, “Since You’re Gone” and “Shake It Up” from Shake It Up; and “You Might Think,” “Drive,” “Heartbeat City” and “Magic” from Heartbeat City. Quite a run of singles!

Out of these, however, Panorama is probably the one that faired the worst. It only had one single– it was considered The Cars’ “experimental” album. I picked up an 8-Track version in some cutout bin a long time ago and listened to it maybe one time and dismissed it. I think that I’ll give it a fair shake now to see what I think.

B-Sides in the Bins #22 – Cedar Rapids 2/22 & 2/23/08

Friday night Sherry was at a class, so I decided to hit Half Price Books before coming home from work. I also hit CD’s Plus on Saturday while I was out running some errands. I got some pretty cool stuff, including a CD that I was hoping to snag for a review from a label.

Prince – Purple Rain – 20th Anniversary (2 DVD, Warner Bros. 33533, 2004) ($9.98) One of the cool things about Half Price Books is that they get “cut outs” of CD’s and DVDs. They had two copies of this sealed and notched as cut-out. I had purchased not too long ago a copy of the 1997 release. I think it was in one of the bins at Wal-Mart. This was the “Standard Version” that was pan-and-scan 6×9. The 20th Anniversary version is 2 DVD with a second DVD dedicated to extras like a cool documentary on First Avenue where the live performances were filmed, a making of documentary with interviews with Dr. Z, Wendy and Lisa, Jimmy Jam and others. They also have a somewhat embarrassing “MTV Premiere Party” from the movie premiere complete with interviews of John “Cougar” Mellencamp, “Wierd Al” Yankovic, “rising star” Eddie Murphy, Wendy and Lisa, Little Richard who was in full Bible-thumping mode, and a self-important VJ Mark Goodman. An interesting view into the MTV promotional engine. Talk about non-sequitur interviewees! I guess Eddie Murphy and Little Richard make some kind of sense– but the “Wierd Al” and John Mellencamp interviews were certainly a stretch. Little Richard turned his interview into a thing about him and Murphy makes some funny digs about that. Mark Goodman goads Murphy unsuccessfully to do an impersonation of Prince, and then tries to get him to do an impersonation of James Brown. Eddie says, “I’ve already done that” and walks away. The bonuses also include all of the associated videos from Prince, The Time, and Apollonia 6. Wow, “Sex Shooter” was a really horrible song and even worse video.

As the story goes, Apollonia Kotero replaced Vanity (Denise Matthews) for the lead female part after Vanity broke up with Prince and went solo under a record contract with Motown. So, the remaining members of Vanity 6 (Brenda Bennett and Susan Moonsie) plus actress Patricia Kotero (renamed “Apollonia” by Prince) became Apollonia 6. The Vanity 6/Apollonia 6 girl group was an idea that Prince had for a while and of course created songs for. Apollonia 6 recorded one record tied in with the rest of the records associated with the movie and that was it. Kotero and group were supposed to open the tour with the Revolution and the Time but that never panned out. Interestingly, Prince apparently wrote “Manic Monday” which would eventually go to The Bangles (and likely specifically to Suzanna Hoffs) and “The Glamorous Life” which went to Sheila E. for the Vanity 6/Apollonia 6 projects. Coincidentally, both Vanity and Apollonia have become born-again Christians. Actually, Prince is too, I guess.

The movie is restored to Widescreen and remastered. The old release was really shoddy, and this one is a vast improvement. I see that there is a BluRay version of this available, too. I’ll probably upgrade this copy when I get a BluRay player.

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (Or The Last Remains Of The Dodo) (CD, Superego Records, 2000) ($5.98) This is the album that followed the success of the soundtrack to Magnolia. It includes some of the songs from Magnolia– one as an instrumental. Aimee Mann is one of my favorite female musicians and her pairing with Jon Brion is perfect. The songs from Music from the Motion Picture Magnolia and this album would make a nice mix CD. Only “How Am I Different,” “Deathly,” and “You Do” are on both. “Nothing Is Good Enough” appears on the soundtrack as an instrumental.

This was a sealed copy or re-sealed. Aimee’s first release as an independent artist.

Mike’s Mann Mix for the Last Remains of the Magnolia

1. One (from Magnolia)
2. Momentum (from Magnolia)
3. Build That Wall (from Magnolia)
4. Deathly (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
5. Driving Sideways (from Magnolia)
6. You Do (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
7. Wise Up (from Magnolia)
8. Save Me (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
9. How Am I Different (Bachelor No. 2)
10. Nothing Is Good Enough (Bachelor No. 2)
11. Red Vines (Bachelor No. 2)
12. The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist (Bachelor No. 2)
13. Satellite (Bachelor No. 2)
14. Ghost World (Bachelor No. 2)
15. Calling It Quits (Bachelor No. 2)
16. Just Like Anyone (Bachelor No. 2)
17. Susan (Bachelor No. 2)
18. It Takes All Kinds (Bachelor No. 2)
19. Nothing Is Good Enough (Instrumental) (Magnolia)

Pylon – Gyrate Plus (CD, DFA 2181CD, 2007) ($5.98) This is one that I’d hoped would come to me as a promo for review, but at $5.98 used, it was worth buying. I was surprised to see its spine looking up at me from the bins. Pylon was one of the seminal Athens, GA bands and were contemporaries of the B-52’s. Started as a kind of side project for its members who really thought of themselves more of an art collective. They were inspired by the B-52’s very stripped down approach (at least in the early days). I think you can hear a lot of similarities in the tribal dance beats and angular guitars. I became familiar with Pylon through the documentary “Athens, GA Inside/Out” and their performance of “Stop It.” When I got to college in the late 80’s I met a guy named Tom Lally who had the Pylon records on vinyl. These were on the now-defunct DB Recs label. I had made a tape of Gyrate and Chomp. Pylon broke up after Chomp just as they were asked to open for U2. Pylon reformed in 1990 for Chain on the now defunct Sky Records. I bought Chain when it came out and the 1988 Hits compilation on DB Recs. Other than the few tracks on Hits, the tracks from Chomp have not seen re-release. I hope that DFA is planning to reissue Chomp as well.

Listening to these songs again for the first time since the Nineties, I can tell that my remedial bass-playing skills are very influenced by Pylon– especially the track “Volume” on Gyrate. Pylon got back together last year and played a handful of shows to promote this re-issue and there are a couple of them available via BitTorrent.

R.E.M. are fans of Pylon and covered “Crazy” on their Dead Letter Office album of B-Sides.

Click Here to visit Southern Shelter’s page of live mp3’s from Pylon.

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog (CD, SubPop SPCD 710, 2007) ($7.99) I got this one from CD’s Plus. I was happy to have stumbled into this one. I was really impressed with Sam Beam’s collaboration with Calexico for the In the Reins EP. Shepherd’s Dog picks up nicely from there. Full instrumentals provided with help again from Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus. Very nice percussion one this record makes it kind of a toe-tapper for me. Sam’s voice is one of my favorites in indie rock today. Brilliant record, I can’t recommend it enough.

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