Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at Calexico and its continuing expansion of sound, inviting in influences beyond its traditional Southwestern fare.
Week of 04/24/2015
WHAT: Edge of The Sun
It's easy to consider the background of Calexico—a band from Tucson, named after the border town that separates the largest American state from its largest supplier of immigrants—and assume that Mexican music has a sizable influence on its indie rock stylings. This is, in part, true: The mariachi horns that appear throughout Edge of The Sun certainly came from our southern neighbors.
Don't mistake the standout track on the album, "Cumbia de Donde," as a Mexican tribute however, despite its Spanish-language lyrics. The music form of cumbia draws its origins from Colombia...serving as a subtle reminder to listeners that Latin American music draws from many influences, as does Calexico.
Those who believe Edge of The Sun is an overly-Latin American-influenced piece should consider what the band did for its first 16 years of existence, releasing seven albums of Southwest-inspired indie rock. Then, perhaps out of restlessness, the band took to New Orleans to record its eighth album Algiers, its most successful collection in terms of sales and among its most popular among critics as well (peaking at no. 72 on the Billboard 200).
Indeed, Algiers should be the the go-to starting point for those unfamiliar with the group. Edge of The Sun suggests that Calexico has adopted a more Calexinternational approach to its sound, leaving the door open to more experimentation in the future and retaining its relevance as a band.