sun 25/02/2024

Album: Calexico - Seasonal Shift | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Calexico - Seasonal Shift

Album: Calexico - Seasonal Shift

Tex-Mex rockers and their mates offer a cross-cultural seasonal celebration

Seasonal Shift: a syrupy Christmas

Christmas albums are traditionally, pretty cheesy affairs and Seasonal Shift sees Tex-Mex rockers Calexico join in with the spirit of things, invite a disparate group of friends into the studio and lay the Panela on seriously thick.

As well as some original tunes, which often find themselves channelling Roy Orbison at his most family-friendly, there are covers of songs by the Plastic Ono Band and Tom Petty, and even some surprising cultural cross-overs. There’s not too much that actually references a birth in Bethlehem though and sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t. Quite what hits the nail on the head and what misses, however, will depend on whether the listener is a Grinch or an avid lover of some of the syrupier aspects of Christmastime.

Calexico kick things off with “Hear the Bells”, which has more than a touch of the Big O about it, as banks of strings back up a country slide guitar and Mexican trumpets. This is followed with a guest appearance from Gaby Moreno on the traditional folk tune, “Mi Burrito Sabanero”. There’s even a touch of the easy listening singer-songwriters of 1970’s Laurel Canyon on “Nature’s Domain”.

Things also move into the somewhat unexpected stylistic territory of “Heart of Downtown”, which features Nigerien Tuareg singer-songwriter Bombino and has something of Richie Valens on a musical safari in Mali about it. Similarly, “Sonoran Snoball” with Camilo Lara of the Mexican Institute of Sound is weird and somewhat jarring with its Spanish-English rap and use of electronics and, what sound like, children’s musical toys. It is the final tune, “Mi Burrito Sabanero Reprise”, however, that will really test listeners’ tolerance of the Disneyfication of Christmas, as we are treated to three and a half minutes of people from around the world wishing everyone “Happy Holidays” over an instrumental re-tread of a tune from earlier in the album.

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