ALBUM OF WEEK 43 – ALGIERS, & CALEXICO ON STAGE

Few weeks ago, Arturo, one of my gig partners in crime I knew thanks to a music forum I regularly visit, told me had a spare ticket for the live show Calexico was offering in November. He had purchased the ticket right after they were available, however he received another ticket for as a birthday present. Instead of putting it for sale and acquainted with my musical tastes, he thought it was a good idea to invite me to the show, a very promising one, convinced I’d likely enjoyed it.

To be honest I had never listened to any single chord of this band till Arturo confirmed the ticket was mine unless I was horrified by their music. Facing such offer I felt immediately pushed to listen to Calexico, and the opening record to start with them was Algiers, their last album, released in September.

It took me half a song to realize Calexico was thousands of miles far from what I expected. I don’t know, I misjudged for their name and thought they were kind of Oi! Reggae ska , or something like that. Guess I mistook them for a band named Dr Calypso. I know…sometimes I think I live in a different planet.

Well, as I was telling, when I started hearing Epic, a super suggestive and atmospheric song, I knew Calexico was something classy and special. In fact, the first word I have in mind when trying to define the band’s style is elegance, and then I’d add their music is a combinations of different sounds, moving from Americana-folkie  to Mexican-border mariachi stuff. Guess my definition is not very helpful to define their style, so you should listen songs such as Puerto or No Te Vayas to undertand what I mean. Brass arrangements and the mighty percussions, adorned with shakers, maracas, in a very old school fashion. Beautiful!

Algiers moves through intense and  relaxing stages, more emotional, as Para or Fortune Teller, more easy going as Algiers or Splitter.  Vocals are carefully taken care of, showing beautiful melodies, supported by work on every single detail. Drums, bass, guitars, trumpets, accordions, lap steels… the amount of instruments used to achieve sound perfection is overwhelming. The work behind this album has been a very dedicated one, no doubt.

Considering some parts are under a strong Latin influence, which I’m not very acquainted with, and usually not interested in, the general impression is that Algiers is probably one of the best albums released this year. PERIOD.

I was so impressed Algiers became the album of the week, as in preparation of what was to come on Sunday.

After Saturday off, meaning free of any scheduled show, I spent writing, baking cookies and chilling out, having rested from this intense week, I was in the mood for enjoying some music for my senses. You know, a show you’re delighted by the music, and admiring the performance on stage, the way the musicians were displayed, they changed instruments, from the point of view of a person who is barely acquainted with the band. I just knew Algiers was fantastic, however I wasn’t too much sure of what was going to happen.

We were 5 of the rock troop eventually, Elena and I were the rookies, while the other three guys were every enthusiastic for seeing this band.

We had been told Apolo theatre was sold out the night The Gaslight Anthem played, however, the audience outnumbered, and the venue was packed. Probably more tickets were on sale, because it was the kind of show bookers know people are not to jump, stage dive, nor get crazy. I thing average age was 40, with people in their 50s and some proud dads with their older children.

The show was very interesting. Epic, the opening song of Algiers, was also chosen for a perfect start. The set list included some tracks of their new album, such as Para, Splitter or Puerto, and there were several in which the Spanish singer Amparo (Amparanoia), who I can’t stand much, was accompanying with some relevant moments. Her voice is powerful and matches perfectly all this Latin sound Calexico is trying to provide their songs with, however as an artist on stage, I loathed her. I know I’m tough. She made a good job, but in my opinion, seeking for extra attention, very noticeable and forced.

 One of the nice suprises they give me was they covered Love’s song Alone Again Or. Been ages since I don’t listen to Forever Changes, and brought me back tons of memories from my teenage days.

With encores, the progression and consequently extension of certain songs, the show lasted almost 2 hours, with all the audience, me included, enthusiastic.

Attending this Calexico show made me think of me becoming more and more open minded, and digesting certain sounds in a very positive manner, something I wouldn’t have thought of 5 years ago. Thus, guess I’m growing up, not only in age and size, but also musically speaking, and have to say I’m proud of it. On the other hand, finishing this last crazy week attending such show made me really happy.

Damn, it was a great week, and I’ve managed to survive.

** Thanks a lot, Arturo. I Owe U

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