Calexico – Carried to Dust

Rating: ★★★★½

This is the Calexico I know and love. This is the Calexico I fell in love with when I was just a little lad. No offense to those of you who enjoyed the more rock oriented stylings of Garden Ruin from 2006, but I personally found that album mostly boring and too ordinary. No no, give me that band I used to know from the days of The Black Light or Feast of Wire any day. Much to my delight, newest album Carried to Dust shows a return to that missed form. The guys even hark back to the old Mexican themed album covers after the random black bird on the cover of their last album.

The sound I’m talking about is that dusty, old, spaghetti western, Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack makin’ sound that’s been the staple of Calexico since their very beginnings. When listening to some of the tracks on this album, specifically tracks “El Gatillo” and “Man Made Lake”, can’t you imagine these as a build up to a bloody shoot out? Or our hero riding off into the Mexican sunset? I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

Another huge highlight on this album, and something I can’t remember Calexico pulling off before, is the sweet dueling vocals of “Inspiración”. The song almost seems like a Spanish version of a song that came out earlier this year called “You Want That Picture” featuring Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Ashley Webber. I loved that song and I can’t get over this one either. Maybe I’m a sucker for good male/female blended harmonies.

Then there’s Sam Bean of Iron & Wine.  Sam shows his face later in the album on standout track “House of Valparaiso”.  The song sounds like it could have easily been something left over from the 2005 Calexico/Iron & Wine EP.   Sam Bean’s rusty and worn voice fits perfectly with the intimate feel of this track.   If I had my way, Iron & Wine would merge with Calexico and take over the world.

I can’t really find any holes in the album, maybe besides random filler song “Sarabande In Pencil Form” and a possible throw away in “Writer’s Minor Holiday.”   Calexico can speed things up with the best mariachi bands and then bring you back down with a heart felt serenade. Here’s to hoping for more of the same from Calexico.

Xemumba ’08 Afterthoughts

The Latin music festival known as Xemumba can best be summarized as an audio/visual extravaganza that takes hold of your senses and never lets go. One minute you’re sipping on a beer listening to the latest salsa coming out of Cuba, and then your running upstairs to watch the UT ballet folklorico cuttin’ a rug. Oh and then you have tasty South American treats to munch on, while watching a Spanish documentary made by local film makers. Xemumba even had opportunities to help out less fortunate young hispanic girls in the community. Not impressed yet? After the jump is a quick review of each band we saw on Friday at the festival with photos (Saturday unfortunately was postponed to a later date. We’ll of course let you know when the event is rescheduled). 

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Whitley

This Aussie gentleman, Whitley, has been getting a lot of buzz lately so we thought it’d be a good time to jump on the hype machine.  Some of you may know that he put out an album about a year ago in Australia called The Submarines that received a ton of critical acclaim.  Now we the people of the United States will finally get our hands on this album September 30th.  Catch a preview of the album with “A Shot to the Stars” below.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/ashottothestars.mp3]

Download: Whitley – A Shot to the Stars [MP3]

Sera Cahoone @ Emo’s Lounge (9/19)

You peoples in the internet world probably know we here at ATH are big fans of Sera Cahoone, so of course we have to let you know when she comes to town.  It also doesn’t hurt when Sera is playing with another great artist in Sam Champion.  Treat yourself to a great evening of live music on Friday night at Emo’s Lounge with Sera Cahoone & Sam Champion.  You can buy tickets to the show right now for only $10.

Free Music From Skybucket

The nice folks at Skybucket Records have a sweet little sampler you can download from their website.  The sampler features tracks from Through the Sparks, Dan Sartain, The Dexateens, and a whole slew of others.  Standout track “Slender Thread” from The Dexateens can be found below for your listening pleasure.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/06-slender-thread.mp3]

Download: The Dexateens – Slender Thread [MP3]

ATX Converge @ Mohawk (9/19)

We just discovered that the White Denim show posted on the Mohawk website is actually a free by RSVP show put on by ATX Converge.  The lineup is pretty dang impressive: White Denim, Black Joe Lewis, Freshmillions and Belaire will all be on hand.  The show isn’t until Friday, but you better RSVP now before the window closes.  Make sure you get in line early since those RSVPs rarely guarantee you get in anything.  Doors are at 8.

Denison Witmer Covers

My Old Kentucky Blog alerted us to this intimate cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make you Love me” by Denison Witmer.  This follows his release of another superb cover of the Red House Painters tune “Have You Forgotten” which can be download from Denison’s myspace.  Mr. Witmer also has a new album Carry the Weight due out on November 11th.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/denison-witmer-i-cant-make-you-love-me-bonnie-raitt.mp3]

Download: Denison Witmer – I Can’t Make You Love Me[MP3]

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