Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Splitter” by Calexico from the 2012 album Algiers on ANTI-.
Named for a town on the Mexico/United States border, Calexico incorporates a wide variety of Latin sounds in their multicultural mix of alternative country and blues rock. Founded in 1996 by Giant Sand members Joey Burns and John Convertino, the pair collaborate with a revolving series of musicians. Although they’d been actively touring for nearly a decade, Calexico’s first taste of wider attention was in 2005 when they teamed up with Iron And Wine’s Sam Beam for the In The Reins EP. Since then, the duo have continued to hone their genre-jumping craft while maintaining a heavy tour schedule. The duo’s sixth album, Algiers, is named for a neighborhood near New Orleans on the southwest banks of the Mississippi River, and in traditional Calexico fashion, the duo have infused elements of the local music traditions into their own sounds. Layered with twinkling piano and rallied around Convertino’s propulsive beat, “Splitter” is a prime cut of the band’s desert noir sound augmented with the sounds of the Big Easy. Joey Burns’ grainy vocal performance ranges from a whisper to a moan as he adopts a gospel-tinged melody to go with the vibrant horn section, and as he sings “One eye in the mirror, the other on the screen... holding on to no one.” With the windows down and the wind blowing in their hair, Calexico have seamlessly incorporated the feeling one of the country’s most beloved and mythic cities into its already well-traveled sound.
Calexico are currently touring Europe in support of Algiers, but they’ll be back in the United States next month, including a stop at the Neptune Theater on October 19th. They’ll also be performing live on KEXP the next day, October 20th, at 1PM. Check out the rest of their dates over at their website and keep track of them on their Facebook. For now, watch the video for “Splitter”: