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Turn It Up

Turn It Up: January 4, 2013

Algiers (Anti-) is not just the capital and largest city of Algeria but the New Orleans neighborhood where Tucson-based, Texicali-flavored indie rockers Calexico cut its seventh studio album. But rather than embracing the sonic nuances of the Big Easy like so many other bands that decamp to this port city to record, Joey Burns and John Convertino instead use the hybridization of genres that’s endemic to the heart and soul of this port city’s music scene as their creative guide. The band’s trademark use of mariachi horns and southwestern noir aesthetic is still intact, but used to great effect in the chugging twangfest that is “Splitter” or while incorporating Cuban mambo time signatures on “Sinner in the Sea,” a gem that’s reminiscent of Los Lobos’ more eclectic work. Elsewhere, Calexico continues to admirably mix it up. “No Te Vayas” is a pleading ballad that translates to “Don’t Go” and crooned in Spanish by the duo of Jacob Valenzuela and Spanish artist Jairo Zavala (a.k.a. Depedro). While the delicately plucked flamenco guitar and urgent brushstrokes of “Puerto” add urgency to this tale of greedy conquistadors, the fuzz guitar and the call-and-response of the couplet “say a little goodbye to your love” could easily make it the soundtrack for anyone’s heartbreak. Calexico’s latest collection of songs is a welcome addition to the band’s already intriguing mélange of recordings.