The ninth studio album from Calexico, ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ (2018) is a timely snapshot of the Arizona-bred band: a family portrait capturing their stylistic variety and unpredictability while still finding solace in limitless creativity. In bringing the album to life, vocalist/guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino found a spiritual home in unusual surroundings—not in Arizona, but on the Northern California coast in a home-turned-studio called the Panoramic House. Built from debris and shipyard-salvaged timber—and dubbed “The Phantom Ship” by the band—the grandiose house and its edge-of-the-world-like ambience soon made their way into the songs. The specter of California also had a powerful effect: as both dream state and nightmare, its infinite duality is mirrored in the music, giving Calexico a new direction and new edge. With less polish and more grit than ever before, ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ both honors enduring traditions and reveals Calexico’s confidence in songwriting, ultimately setting a whole new standard for the band.
Across nine studio albums, numerous collaborations, movie scores and soundtracks and thousands of shows, Calexico have roamed the world with their unique and stirring “desert noir” sound. Calexico make panoramic frontier music that effortlessly crosses borders, cultures and genres and have seamlessly infused the instrumentation, sounds and structures of cumbia, fado, jazz, gypsy, surf, country, spaghetti western epics from the shadows of indie rock into a body of work that is unique and completely intoxicating both live and on record.
Calexico’s most recent project is the release of “Years to Burn” (2019), a collaborative record with Iron & Wine. The album has received two Grammy nominations: Best American Roots Performance (“Father Mountain”) and Best Americana Album (“Years to Burn”).