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Calexico Biography

Home > Music > C > Calexico > Biography

Birth Place: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Years Active: 1996–present
Genres: Americana, Indie Rock, Alternative Country, Roots Rock, Tex-Mex, Post-rock

Calexico is a Tucson, Arizona-based Americana, alternative country band. The band's two main members, Joey Burns and John Convertino, first played together in Los Angeles as part of the group Giant Sand. Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi, conjunto, cumbia, Tejano music, Southwestern U.S. country music as well as '50s-'60s jazz and '90s-'00s post-rock. The band is named for the border town of Calexico, California.

Calexico recorded, “Spoke,” in 1996 for German independent label Hausmusik with a limited edition of 2,000 copies. At that point the band was still called Spoke and the album was technically self-titled. After the band signed with Quarterstick Records (a subsidiary of Touch and Go Records) and changed their name to Calexico. “Spoke” was reissued by the label in 1997.

Their second album, “The Black Light,” was released in 1998. This was a concept album about the desert of Arizona and northern Mexico and received excellent reviews.

The band built their profile by touring as support acts for bands such as Pavement, the Dirty Three and Lambchop. Their “Road Map” album was a limited recording released in 1999 for sale only at Calexico's live shows.

Calexico released its third album, “Hot Rail,” in May 2000 featuring the addition of horns and violin to their sound. The duo was busy in 2000 as they also appeared on a Giant Sand record called, “Chore of Enchantment,” as well as a tour only record, “Travelall.”

At the end of 2000, Calexico joined with two French friends Naïm Amor and Thomas Belhôm to record, “Tete a Tete,” for release at the beginning of 2001. The band released two collections of rarities during 2001. “Even My Sure Things Fall Through” collected outtakes from previous albums, B-sides, remixes and material previously unreleased in the U.S. The album also featured Mariachi Luz de Luna who frequently played live with the duo. The “Aerocalexico” album was sold exclusively at their gigs in 2001.

Their “Scraping” live album was released in 2002. Their next studio recording, “Feast of Wire,” was released in 2003 and made the charts for the first time appearing on Billboard's Heatseekers and Independent Albums charts. They released a live DVD in 2004, called, “World Drifts In: Live at the Barbican.”

Calexico contributed the song, “Burnin' Down the Spark,” to Nancy Sinatra's self-titled album in late 2004. The album featured artists who cited Sinatra as a musical influence. The song was released in the U.K. as the second single from the album in early 2005.

In 2005, Calexico joined up with Miami based folk band Iron & Wine and the, “In the Reins,” EP was released in September 2005 to positive reviews. It also made an appearance on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, becoming their first recording to make that chart, while reaching #12 on the Independent Albums chart.

Released in 2006, “Garden Ruin,” was Calexico's fifth studio album. The sound strayed slightly from earlier works, focusing less on the horn section, and placing more emphasis on guitar and vocal tracks, giving the whole album a more mainstream sound.

Their sixth studio LP, called “Carried to Dust,” featured Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Douglas McCombs of Tortoise and Pieta Brown. It was released via Touch & Go Records in September 2008. In 2010, a new Calexico album was released as the soundtrack to the documentary film, “Circo.”

In May 2011, their song, “Slowness,” was dedicated by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to her husband astronaut Mark Kelly as the wake up song aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its final flight. A new album, “Algiers,” was issued in September 2012 on ANTI- Records and CITY SLANG (Europe).