Calexico is among the most wonderfully confounding bands to emerge from the underground in ages; certainly since the rise of Ozomatli.
A true melting pot of styles, the band’s sound includes the classic acoustic psychedelia of bands like Love (whose 1967 hit “Alone Again Or” was covered on Calexico’s Convict Pool
EP), but is most firmly rooted in mariachi. It’s even more impressive when considering that trumpeter Martin Wenk and bassist Volker Zander are German. You don’t expect the kindergarteners in Munich to grow up with “La Bamba.” Giant Sand veterans and Tucson, Arizona locals John Convertino (guitar, vocal) and drummer Joey Burns helm the band.
Filmed at London’s Barbican Theatre on Nov. 27, 2002 during the Further Beyond Nashville festival, World Drifts In features fresh performances of “Quattro” and “Not Even Stevie Nicks...” from Calexico’s 2003 release, Feast of Wire. These have become signature songs for the group. The 20-song set begins with the spaghetti-western sounds of “Wash,” featuring the core six-piece group. “Sonic Wind” follows, featuring the brilliant trumpet playing of multi-instrumentalist Jacob Valenzuela. Former Lambchop member Paul Niehaus adds a sun-drenched, mirage-inducing swoon to “Frontera/Trigger.”
By the time “Across the Wire” begins, the group is augmented by the eight-piece Mariachi Luz de Luna. Chanteuse Francoiz Breut adds sultry French vocals to “Si Tu Disais,” and Ruben Moreno takes lead vocal for a cover of Los Lobos’ “Cancion Del Mariachi.”
The stage is beautifully illuminated by Calexico’s lighting designer, James Murray. Picture and sound are top notch. Calexico has evolved considerably since 1998’s Black Light. Hopefully, it’s much to early to call this the band’s peak. Still, World Drifts In captures the band in full creative force. Well worth the money for fans, and an exceptional introduction for the uninitiated.