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Calexico: The Black Light

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Calexico makes music for films that aren't being made anymore. Composed of rhythm-section-for-hire Joey Burns and John Convertino—the two have played on recent albums by Giant Sand, Friends Of Dean Martinez, OP8, Barbara Manning, Victoria Williams, and Richard Buckner—the band plays music that's more remarkable for what it evokes than for what it actually sounds like. Listening to The Black Light is like visiting the ghost-town set of a forgotten Western: Think tumbleweeds and saguaros, campfires competing with sunsets, deserted highways, bleached cow skeletons, lazy siestas, and sparsely populated border colonies where street musicians struggle to make a living. Despite a tendency to drift into source-music anonymity, Convertino and Burns are players of an astounding capacity, embellishing their songs with everything from haunting vibes to mournful Mariachi horns. The Black Light builds upon the sketches of the band's debut album, Spoke, with fleshed-out music and even some singing. The overall effect draws the listener into another world, where an isolated camp in a hidden valley constitutes civilization and the sound of coyotes calling is the only company you keep once the sun goes down.