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Calexico

Edge of the Sun – 2015 (Anti-/Epitaph)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Calexico

It's kind of curious. Look in the dictionary for the definition of the word "metamorphosis" and don't be surprised if a group shot of Calexico pops up. Okay, we're exaggerating here, but given the band's Arizona origins, and an early sound characterized by a blend of rock, mariachi and Tejano, there seems to be an overt aim for mainstream appeal accompanying their current opus "Edge of the Sun." Take a closer look, and it becomes apparent that either deliberately or perhaps by chance, Calexico's idiosyncrasies have been muted in favor of a more sweeping, almost anthemic approach.

To put it another way, where once their "desert noir" sound was as dry as the sparse desert environs from which they were spun, Calexico (who, by the way, took their name from the border town of Calexico, Cal.) come across as more vibrant than ever.

There's earnest intent inherent in such songs as "Falling from the Sky" and "Tapping on the Line," while certain tracks - "Miles from the Sea" and "Woodshed Waltz" in particular - offer ample enticement through a smooth croon and a soft sashay. As expected, the group hasn't abandoned its south of the border sound altogether, even though it's limited to a pair of tracks, the horn-laden serenade "Cumbria de Donde" and the easy exotic sway of "Beneath the City of Dreams."

Ultimately, while Calexico's style on "Edge of the Sun" can be seen as a definitive change, the band's sun swept dynamic still finds a measure of distinction and intrigue. This is an album that merits attention, not necessarily due to the influence of its environs, but rather because the music is intrinsically compelling. An apt introduction to those as yet unaware, "Edge of the Sun" ought to heat up some interest from the longtime faithful as well.