Calexico have shared a second track from their forthcoming ninth studio album, ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’, which is due out on Jan 26th via City Slang, promising a ‘new direction and new edge’ from the band. Talking about the song, Joey Burns explained the song: “In the age of the extremes, when walls attempt stifling words, this song is inspired by the poems on postcards from those uprooted by war and oppression. It’s a song to remind us to open up our hearts and hear other voices sing their stories…I was listening to Mavis Staples, Bombino, Joe Strummer and Bob Dylan.”
In bringing ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ to life, Joey Burns and 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 spectre 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.
Working with their longtime engineer Craig Schumacher, Calexico co-produced ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’, gathering musicians from across the globe to dream up an earthy yet expansive sound spiked with jagged guitar tones and flashes of distortion. “There’s a little more chaos and noise in the mix than what we’ve done in the past,” Burns points out. Although that chaos has much to do with “where we’re at right now as a planet,” it also echoes Calexico’s dedication to constant experimentation. “Whenever we’re writing and we come up with something that feels too familiar, someone will end up saying, ‘That feels good, but let’s keep going and see what else we can uncover,’” Burns says. “It’s been really important to the arc of this band’s evolution for us to always keep on trying new things.”
‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ captures the anxieties and unease of living in tumultuous times. But while the album draws a kinetic energy from all that uncertainty, its lyrics unfold with a literary nuance and sense of setting and character. “Instead of writing straight-up protest songs, I want to tell stories,” Burns says. Largely inspired by his wanderings around Northern California during the album’s production, the narratives embedded in the record reflect on displacement, transitory existence, and—in Burns’s words—“returning to your home after being gone for some time and seeing how things have changed, and maybe not in the best way.”
Calexico are Joey Burns, John Convertino, Martin Wenk, Jacob Valenzuela, Sergio Mendoza, Jairo Zavala Ruiz, and Scott Colberg.
Pre-order ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ here: https://calexico.lnk.to/TheThreadThatKeepsUs
Calexico 2018 UK live dates:
Mar 28 Bristol, UK @ Trinity Centre
Mar 29 London, UK @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire