Sometimes the worst thing you can do is be very consistently great with your art. Calexico's failure to rise beyond cult status can perhaps be attributed to the fact that their albums are such subtle Whitman Samplers of Tex-Mex-and-kitchen-sink tastefulness. Garden Ruin
, the group's poppiest album to date, just might change their socio-economic standing for the better. It's produced by JD Foster, but none of the things you love about Calexico--the sun-baked guitar, smoky vocals, mariachi horns, woozy lyrics--have left. Those elements are just grafted to crispier, more carefully delineated harmonies and multi-tracked backing vocals higher in the mix. By the album's end, on the slow-burning anthem "All Systems Red," Joey Burns buzzes and howls with a force never shown before on album. It's what Sigur Ros might sound like if they came from Arizona, and it's truly excellent. --Mike McGonigal
Japanese pressing includes two exclusive bonus tracks, 'Deep Down' (Acoustic) and 'Nom De Plume (Alternate Version). The two bonus tracks are not the same that are featured on the European limited edition! Garden Ruin is where Calexico fill those dusty, empty landscapes they've long documented with a big, big sound. Taking full advantage of the rockin' Calexico live band, the record distils its multicultural roots, the input of a producer, new domestic arrangements, international affairs, broadening horizons, developing ambitions and changing scenery. It's not your average Calexico album, but then again, it never is with this band. P-Vine. 2006.