Calexico Few bands produce a musical gumbo as delicious as Tucson, Arizona’s Calexico. Although their name suggests a combination of the Beach Boys and Mexican folk music (or that they actually hail from the town of Calexico, California), their sound is much richer than just a simple two-pronged hybrid. Yes, there is a definite Latin influence, from mariachi to norteno to cumbia. But there’s also elements of roots rock, alt-country, jazz, surf and Ennio Morricone soundtracks. And, as their cover of the Minutemen’s “Corona” proves, there’s very much a punk attitude stapling it all together. The whole milieu is drenched in an intoxicating haze, making them one of the most sublime independent rock bands in the country. Having too broad a sound for a typical club or theater, Calexico brings its multicultural mash-up to the Barnsdall Art Theater in Los Angeles on Jan. 26.
Worth the drive
Giant Drag One guy, one girl with a potty mouth, and a bunch of simple, dreamy and occasionally rough tunes about their gay friends, sweet riff, pretty little neighbors: What is there not to like about Giant Drag? The Los Angeles-based duo got lifted out of the local indie scene by its debut, full-length, Hearts & Unicorns, which earned widespread praise and next-big-thing whisperings when it was released last year. The creation of singer-guitarist Annie Hardy, the band takes a laissez-faire approach to songwriting, approaching their music with a seemingly blasé attitude that allows the tunes to just kind of take shape on their own. The result is a powerful sound that evokes My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana in equal measure. Hardy’s voice recalls a wide swath of female antiheroes, from Kim Deal to Mazzy Star. And she talks a lot of shit. Again, what’s not to like? See if you can find something when the buzz band performs at the Troubadour on Jan. 22 — they probably wouldn’t care even if you did.
Worth the drive
Daniel Lanois Little known fact: Daniel Lanois — Brian Eno collaborator, super-producer and artiste in his own right — used to operate a clandestine studio in downtown Oxnard out of an old Mexican movie theater. He recorded Willie Nelson’s Teatro there — named after the former cinema and featuring a photo of the exterior on the cover — mixed Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind there and did the soundtrack to Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade there. All of those projects are great, but they shouldn’t obscure Lanois’ own material. After all, you don’t hang around music legends half your life without picking up a thing or two. Lanois may have picked up three or four: His songwriting is a masterful blend of U2 ethereality (he co-produced, along with Eno, a handful of their best albums), Robbie Robertson classicism (he served as a sideman for the legendary Band leader) and his own beautifully unique atmospheric vision. Lanois deserves to be as big as the records he’s worked on. And he’s practically a hometown boy — even though he’s really Canadian. Nevermind that, though: Anyone of his stature who’d decide set up shop in Oxnard deserves honorary citizenship. He performs every Tuesday in January at Spaceland in Silverlake.