If writers received five bucks each time we employed a hyphen, then Calexico's country-jazz-surf-pop-Cumbia-rock songs could easily keep us in ballpoint pens and Guinness. Alas, there's no recompense for even the silliest of typography (represent, umlauts) but who cares? The rest of the world falls away when the amazing Garden Ruin rushes from the speakers. Calexico's latest LP is a triumphant trip; with each track, the compass points toward new terrain. The band careens from the sunny-day folk of "Bisbee Blue" (named for the Arizona town where the album was recorded) to the Spanish-horn-driven slowburner "Roka" to the gorgeous, unapologetically political anthem "All Systems Red." In less capable hands, Garden Ruin would be a holy mess. But with Calexico founders Joey Burns and John Convertino at the helm, the stylistically disparate songs combine to make a powerfully cohesive whole. The tracks whether buoyed by glittering guitar riffs and background ooh-oohs, sultry Spanish vocals or simple strumming all have one thing in common: a sense of wonder, beauty and purpose. Really, the only hyphenated phrase needed to describe Garden Ruinis "extra-extra-extra great."
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