Release Date: Apr 11, 2006
Record label: Quarterstick / City Slang
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Initially, the comparative straightness of Garden Ruin comes as a shock: what's expected of Calexico is visionary dust-blown soundscapes, rich and strange and inflected with other musics, jazz, Morricone and mariachi brass. Underneath all that, though, there was always solid songwriting, and it's that - not entirely unadorned but certainly stripped back - that's to the fore here. In some ways it's not a million miles from the darker moments of Crowded House (note: this is a good thing).
When a band starts out with an aesthetic as specific as Calexico's, sometimes expanding that sound means incorporating more pop elements into it. And, after years of being known -- accurately or not -- as the indie-mariachi band, Calexico may have felt boxed in by their very distinctiveness. Like Feast of Wire, Garden Ruin finds them moving further into more song-based, immediately accessible territory (their collaborations and performances with bands like Wilco and Iron & Wine may have also inspired them to tone down their theatricality).