Calexico – Garden Ruin (2006)
purchase this album
For lucky album #7, Calexico has opted to complete its journey into mainstream rock territory; ironically, this means your odds of enjoying Garden Ruin are arguably higher if you weren’t a fan of the band going in.
Of course, if you weren’t a fan already, you’ve been missing out. Though previous Calexico efforts have been located â€” for the most part â€” way out in left field, if you’ve got an itch for dusty Southwestern folk/rock/pop/jazz/mariachi music, those albums are pretty much your best (and maybe only) way of having it scratched. Which leads me back to my original point: Go into Garden Ruin expecting some scratchin’, and you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Which isn’t to say the record is completely devoid of quirks â€” “Roka” and “Nom de Plume” are good old-fashioned Calexican Spanish operas, beamed from a transistor radio on Mars, and closer “All Systems Red” (download) is six minutes of sprawling, majestic insanity â€” but on the whole, this is an album that communicates much of the band’s appeal (the parched sonic landscapes, Joey Burns’ strangled angel’s rasp) without the messy idiosyncracies that diehard fans love. Songs like “Cruel” (download) may leave some old converts feeling like they’ve been tricked into listening to Jackson Browne.