Calexico @ 191 Toole **Sold Out**

The Rialto Theatre Presents

Calexico @ 191 Toole **Sold Out**


Dec 19 Tue

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

191 Toole

$28.00 - $31.00

Sold Out

This event is 21 and over

The ninth studio album from Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us 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.
As heard on the album's lead single and opening track, the drama of the landscape directly impacted the making of The Thread That Keeps Us. Driven by sing-song melody and galloping rhythms, "End of the World with You" discovers an unlikely romanticism in volatile times. With its lyrics illuminating"Love in the age of the extremes," the track is the perfect intro to an album that endlessly explores the contrast between bright and dark, hope and fear.
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."
Like "End of the World with You," much of 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 Thread That Keeps Us 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."
As the exact embodiment of that theme, "Thrown to the Wild" delivers one of the most mesmerizing moments on The Thread That Keeps Us. With its gritty but poetic storytelling, the song opens on a downtown bus station late at night, its sleepy rhythms and atmospheric haze intensifying the bleakness of the scene (sample lyric: "Home's waiting like a motherless child"). From there,"Thrown to the Wild" slips into a glorious frenzy of hummed harmonies, sprawling guitar lines, and Jacob Valenzuela's sorrowful trumpet playing, the effect both hypnotic and jarring. "We wanted the second part of the song to just open into this sea of chaos," says Burns, adding: "Sometimes chaos can be a good thing."
Eclectic in sound and feeling, The Thread That Keeps Us also offers the measured fury of "Bridge to nowhere," the triumphant grooves of the Spanish-sung "Flores y Tamales," the meditative rhythms and jangly guitar riffs of "Another Space." On "The Town & Miss Lorraine," shimmering tones and delicate mandolin melodies play against the darkly cinematic mood of the lyrics ("Sliding into the sea/With cynicism and rum/Watching Miss Lorraine/Smoking alone with the moon"). The most brutal track on The Thread That Keeps Us, "Dead in the Water" builds a thrilling menace from its snarling guitar riffs, frantic piano rhythms, and piercing lyrics penned for what Burns describes as"the antagonist to the story of the album-a kind of monster" ("Don't try to look away or stop me in my path/I make the law and I decree a new kind of wrath"). And woven throughout The Thread That Keeps Us are a series of instrumental interludes, including the lilting folk of "UnconditionalWaltz" and the dreamy psychedelia of "Spinball." "Going into making the album, the only thing I really knew for sure was that I wanted there to be moments that felt free and spontaneous-just these moments of no time, no lyrics, no agenda," says Burns.
One of the most stirring tracks on The Thread That Keeps Us, "Girl in the Forest" spins a gentle fable from its near despair over the state of the planet ("Well the world was spinning so fast, nobody took the time"). "That song wouldn't have been written unless I was sitting next to my daughter Twyla, who was humming along as I was making up this melody," says Burns. "For months we tried finishing the lyrics together; I was leading with this idea about environmentalism and protesters in the forest, and I thought there could be some sort of spirit who appears. And then my daughter told me, 'Yeah, that's cool but maybe it's just a girl who's friends with all the animals.'"
With "Girl in the Forest," The Thread That Keeps Us displays a sensibility that's long informed Calexico's songwriting: a transcendentalist infatuation with the wild beauty of nature, a fascination deepened during their time at Panoramic House. "Being up there on the mountain and taking walks on the shore, and even swimming in the cold water, we couldn't help but be inspired by nature," says Convertino. "Our love for our earth, our home, and the future of our children came into focus, even more, giving the inspiration and desire to give back something that's positive and beautiful and life-affirming."
In that life-affirming spirit, Calexico decided to end The Thread That Keeps Us with a moment of fragile optimism. Described by Burns as "a love song for my kids," the piano-laced, sweetly swaying"Music Box" speaks to preserving dreams in a troubled reality. "Right now we're at the edge of another potential crisis unfolding, and it's haunting every night as you put your kids to sleep," saysBurns. "But at the same time, you look into a child's eyes and you see something hopeful, even if they've maybe heard little pieces of what's going on in the news. I think that's pretty much the case with this band: we still have hope, and we're still so excited to be making this music together."
“El Pasajero”, a journey outwards and inwards

"Travelling is great, but it presents us with a problem: we have to take ourselves along". So says Alain Botton, a rather brainy, if a little boring, Swiss-born philosopher who hasn't had the chance to meet Jairo Zavala. If he had, he would realize that Jairo is one of those people who know how to be both by themselves and with others, and he would also include the album "El Pasajero" (The Passenger) on a list of the best journeys you can make for little more than ten euros.

"El Pasajero" is an album that is quiet yet full of sounds, simple yet multifarious, restrained yet infinite. It is a lean album, magical at times, different from almost everything we hear these days, an album with its own sonic and literary language. And here’s something surprising: Jairo Zavala's nonconformity, his constant searching, and his unique universe acquire here a unity and a coherence, and above all, a depth and beauty that is both moving and transformative. After immersing yourself in "El Pasajero", you are no longer the same person.

Jairo says that his passenger is nothing like Iggy Pop's. He's not the driver, he doesn't hold the reins; he's an observer enjoying the journey, surviving the journey, learning on the journey, creating the journey. This passenger could be any one of thousands of people with whom Jairo has crossed paths as he tirelessly travels the world, people chasing their day in the sun, their hopes and dreams, the invisible ones he sings about in one of the most perfect songs on the album, "Déjalo ir", a heartfelt song encouraging us to listen to those we often ignore.

Every day, these passengers travel the Pan-American Highway, that vein of America that stretches from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, a metaphor for the great human journey that now has its anthem in the form of the song that opens the album, a song that will make you dance, think and laugh, a song that will leave its mark on you. Many of these passengers arrive in or pass through Mexico City, that vast metropolis Depedro sings about with Enrique Bunbury in an unbeatable example of how to paint a city with sounds. And it has its counterpoint in the song “Hay algo ahí”, a reminder that the world isn’t so bad, that there is a lot of good in all the people who make this world what it is.

There’s also a nod to the first passengers, to Africa, the source of the energy that served as the spark for this album, more than three years after “La increíble historia de un hombre bueno”. And that energy is present on “Gigantes”, which reminds us that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you’re going. It's also there on the devastating “Antes de que anochezca”, which blends African and North American music, and in which Jairo plays the guitar as if it were a kora. It’s a song that builds and grabs you deep inside, lifting you up and then dragging you down, a song that moved the great John Convertino on recording it.

The recording of the album was perhaps the most uncertain part of the entire journey – Jairo and Calexico in the studio in Tucson, fifteen days in freezing December, recording in analogue without any margin for error, diving headlong into the search for emotion, honesty, and the fleeting moment. The album features exquisite winds, a string quartet, arrangements by Devotchka's Tom Hagerman, and musicians from the city's symphony orchestra, who were spurred on by shouts of "Crank it up, crank it up, this is rock!". And crank it up they did, softly, almost hypnotically, on "La casa de sal", a journey back towards childhood. And then again on "Ser valiente", another one of this album's gems and a statement on life: you have to be really brave to keep what you most want.

And among this mix of colours lies the bright and delightful "Solo el sonido", the surprising, fifties-inspired "Acuérdate", with the evocative vocals of Gaby Moreno, and the intimate, almost minimalist, "Miedo", a very special kind of petition that lingers long after listening.

As a passenger, Jairo says that he travels with fewer and fewer things, just those that are most important to him (it's the same story with the album), and he tries to learn more and more. As a passenger, he's convinced that if you set off on a journey, you can't turn back, you have to go forward. Otherwise, stay still. Fortunately, Depedro doesn't know how to stay still.
    191 Toole
  • Bookmans Entertainment Exchange
  • The Rialto Theatre
    318 E. Congress St.
    Tucson AZ 85701

    Box Office : M-Sat noon-6pm

    (520) 740-1000

  • The Rialto Theatre Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship and preservation of the historic Rialto Theatre, a unique entertainment venue and cornerstone of downtown Tucson, offering a broad range of high-quality performing arts that are reflective of the diverse and vibrant community it serves.