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Calexico | Alone Again Or EP (City Slang)
Having re-found the balance between experimental exploration and melody-rich showmanship with the recent (and remarkable) 'Feast Of Wire,' Calexico keep up the reinvigorating momentum here on this fine four-tracker.  Offering-up one newly recorded cover, one previously unreleased original song and two radical remixes of Woven Birds (the spooked-out centre-piece of 'Feast Of Wire') this EP isn't necessarily a total must-have addition to the Calexico catalogue, but it's still a deeply satisfying between-album/tour snack nevertheless.  The title-song is better known as the soaring Brian MacClean-penned lead-track from Love's otherwise over-lauded 'Forever Changes,' which Joey Burns and John Convertino (with the help of Sweden's Nicolai Dunger and various Mariachi and on-loan Lambchop players) deliver with suitably barnstorming trumpet-topped aplomb.  Elsewhere the two Woven Birds remixes follow the same deliciously deconstructed approach others used for the band's 'Descamino' remix 12" from 2000; focusing in on Convertino's dextrous drumming (Cinematic Orchestra's remix) and on Burns' parched-whispering 'n' strumming (with the Stratus overhaul).  However, the best cut by far is the creepy and caustic Convict Pool, wherein Burns and Convertino strip themselves back to a basic percussion/guitar/voice set-up.  So as Convertino's drums rumble like a pent-up post-drought desert thunderstorm and as Hispanic-bent acoustic guitars scratch-out chords with bloodied desperation, Burns gives us one of his most impassioned and evocative vocal performances since Bloodflow (from 1998's 'The Black Light').  So rest easy then, with or without Howe Gelb's blessing, Calexico's scorched magic and mystery is still shining as bright as their hometown's sizzling summer sun.

Adrian Pannett
June-July 2003

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