Calexico take their name from a town on the border of California and Mexico, and the title certainly fits the band, who’ve been mixing musical approaches and cultural perspectives with elan ever since group leaders Joey Burns and John Convertino began working together. Fusing the dusty sounds of the American Southwest with spaghetti western soundtracks, Mexican mariachi themes, vintage surf music, cool jazz, and a broad spectrum of Latin influences, Calexico are an eclectic ensemble whose work is as distinctive as it is unpredictable.
In 1997, Burns and Convertino recorded an album together that was released in Europe under the title Spoke. However, when it was later issued in the United States by Quarterstick (a branch of the outstanding indie label Touch & Go), the duo opted to use the group name Calexico, and a year later they issued a second Calexico LP, The Black Light, which expanded on the cinematic feel and dry, evocative sound of the debut. Calexico’s reputation as a live act grew after opening for the likes of Lambchop, Pavement, and the Dirty Three, and the group’s sound and membership grew with their third studio album, Hot Rail, as violins and horns were added to the arrangements; Calexico’s membership would remain fluid over the years, with various musicians assisting Burns and Convertino as the group pursued different projects.