Calexico started out life clutching a fistful of tissues, Giant Sand's peerless rhythm section of Burns & Convertino stretching out from the fanciful vistas they first visited as Friends of Dean Martinez into their own full-blown fantasies of soundtracked Western landscapes. Sometime around the time of their second record, The Black Light, a disc that actually tried to sell itself as the soundtrack for a movie (never made) they had apparently actually storyboarded, these boyish fantasies evolved into something tangible: bursting the illusion of cinematic sound, but inverting on such inception in real-life ways that brought greater reward. Like the myth was buying them back. Calexico, for reasons best left to booking agents, suddenly become a European summer-season outdoor-rock favorite, with Burns & Convertino staging grand-scale stage-shows backed by a monstrous mariachi band. And, by the time they followed it up with The Hot Rail, Calexico were now no longer geekish Morricone-lovers, but the successor to his cinematic landscapes. Also the successor to Kyuss' claim as kings of the musical desert, and, most strangely, seen as a vivid voice documenting the bled-together Americana/Mexicana sounds of the southwestern United States. Three years on, all that dust (and bulldust) seems to have cleared. What's left now is Calexico: band, plain and simple. And, assuming that that three-year interim included a time when the Calexico two went their separate ways, perhaps it's no surprise that coming back, and back together, they've returned with quite circumspect ways. Tonally speaking. While it may find itself less loved than their past discs due to the fact it largely forsakes opulent soundtrackism and baroque mariachi blowouts, Feast of Wire is possibly their strongest work, grounded in the real landscape of the dirty urban-encroached/reservation-dwelled deserts, not the fancifully evoked mythical plains. It helps that it opens with the best cut Joey Burns has ever sung, "Sunken Waltz," whose romantic pirouettes turn a 3/4'd romance through lithe lines like "We prayed it would rain and rain, submerge the whole Western states." But, across the rest of the set, the fact that things often aren't romantic seems the point. This record has more to do with the idiosyncrasies of landscape and the mutability of mood than with something as silly as an imaginary motion picture.