With the advent of 1997's debut LP Spoke and 1998's concept album The Black Light, the dynamic duo dispensed with any lingering perceptions of its sideline status. 2000's Hot Rail further extended Calexico's grasp of international sounds and forms, drawing from spaghetti westerns, French folk songs, and mariachi tunes. Hot Rail mixed orchestrated instrumentals and traditional tales of desperation, embellishing them with weepy pedal steel, somber strings, and twangy licks.
Calexico's latest release, Even My Sure Things Fall Through, is a collection of B-sides and European singles. It opens with a remix of "Sonic Wind," in which Jacob Valenzuela's jazzy trumpet adds dramatic depth to the lush melodies and eerie imagery, then proceeds with a foot-stomping rendition of "The Crystal Frontier," inspired by Carlos Fuentes' novel about life in border towns, and a dreamy cover of American Music Club's "Chanel No. 5." As on previous efforts, Calexico leads its listeners down lost highways and surreptitious side roads -- no shortcuts here -- on a ride that knows no boundaries.