The musical Mecca of Tucson, Arizona has spawned an outfit who’ve embraced the city’s varied cultural heritage on their debut
Much like their home of Tucson, Arizona, XIXA’s sound is a melting pot of different influences, merging elements of Chicha (a sub-genre of Cumbia) and psychedelic desert rock. It comes as no surprise that band leaders Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan are also members of Howe Gelb’s Giant Sand and have played with Calexico.
From the outset there is a dusky feel to Bloodline; the sound of twilight after another day baking beneath the Arizona sun. Heatstroke can warp the senses and here it lends an eerie dimension to XIXA’s sound. It can be heard in the experimental nature of the music and also in the lyrics such as on the pulsating Vampiro – “The bad, the blood, the red / A fever hits until you’re sick” – and the barren Deadman, with “Holy ghosts entangled in you / Their minds made up / Your end waits in the shadows.”
The fascinating mix of genres widens even further on World Goes Away, a collaboration with Tinariwen’s Sadam Iyad Imarhan. The rhythms of Saharan West Africa fit perfectly here, as does the shared interest in bringing their environment to musical life. Down From The Sky is a slice of warped 70s rock, which hints at the presence of more familiar sources of inspiration. That both styles, and those of Latin America, feel so at home on the record is an impressive feat.
The distinctive sound of a band perfectly in tune with their setting and its rich musical heritage, Bloodline is an immersive listen and a rewarding experience.
Verdict: The soundtrack to a peyote-fuelled Arizonan night