Album #338: Calexico – Seasonal Shift

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Tucson, Arizona, USA
  • Label: City Slang
  • Best Track: Hear the Bells

Resorting to Christmas albums as 2020 reaches its final month is not really what I envisaged for this blog. The obvious one to start with today would have been the new Sigur Rós album, but I really didn’t expect them to release an album this year and have already reviewed Valtari, so it would be breaking my rule of one album per act.

Still, Calexico are always a solid band, and even when using Christmas as a backdrop and throwing in one or two covers, they still come up with something that sounds their own and is beautifully crafted.

The Americana/indie rock legends have a strange quality of writing songs that you always think might be covers because they sound so familiar and carefully put together. Some on Seasonal Shift definitely are, like John & Yoko’s ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ and Tom Petty’s ‘Christmas All Over Again’.

I thought opener ‘Hear the Bells’ was too at first, as it borrows the melody pretty heavily from The Pogues’ ‘Rainy Night in Soho’, but once you get over that, it’s a lovely addition to the indie Christmas song catalogue.

Elsewhere, we have a couple of numbers in Spanish (‘Mi Burrito Sabanero’ and ‘Tanto Tristeza’), and perhaps the best all-year-round song, as well as the one most typically like Calexico, is ‘Peace of Mind’. The album ends simply with a collection of heartfelt Christmas wishes in multiple languages.

This is a nice record basically – it cheered me up. It’s not earth-shattering stuff, but is a welcome piece of solace and compassion at the end of a troubled year.

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