Calexico's 2003 album Feast of Wire is a gem, a smidgen more accessible than the Tucson band's earlier full-lengthers and stellar from start to finish.

The band's versatility continues to amaze. Their default setting -- mariachi-infused country-rock with touches of jazz -- is unusual enough, but what really astonishes is how well they can travel in each of those individual directions. There's a cumbia-like ode to their favorite taco shop in "Güero Canelo," a spare waltz of aching beauty in "Sunken Waltz" and a tribute to Gil Evans in the straight-up jazz number "Crumble."



Nita's Hideaway, 3300 South Price in Tempe.

Scheduled to perform with Neko Case on Friday, January 2.

"Not Even Stevie Nicks . . ." has the most memorable couplet on the album: "With a head like a vulture and a heart full of hornets/He drives off the cliff into the blue." The song was inspired by bandleader Joey Burns' childhood.

"I grew up in Southern California near these cliffs, and there'd be times where these cars would just drive off," Burns remembers. "And then the next day we'd go down to the tidal pools and play and wander around in the car wrecks and find all these strange leftover objects. It had a deep impression on me."


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