- Calexico: Joey Burns (vocals, guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, cello, accordion, keyboards, double bass, percussion); John Convertino (accordion, vibraphone, marimba, drums, percussion).
- Personnel: Joey Burns (vocals, guitar, cello, accordion, organ, loops); Marianne Dissard (vocals); Nick Luca (guitar); Craig Schumacher (harmonica); John Convertino (accordion, organ, vibraphone, marimba, drums, percussion); Ruben Moreno, Martin Wenk (trumpet); Rob Mazurek (cornet).
- Recording information: WaveLab Studio, Tucson, AZ.
- Giant Sand members John Convertino and Joey Burns here continue their eclectic, soundtrack-like side project exploring music and culture. Approaching conventional song structure as a painter would a blank canvas, there are no rules and no limitations in their artful approach to their music.
- "El Picador" has an atmospheric quality that practically puts the taste of Mexican soil in your mouth, while in "Ballad of Cable Hogue," the English/French vocals play out like a dialogue to a Western classic. The instrumental "Muleta" paints more sonic pictures of Mexico with lush layers of acoustic guitars, while the dramatic and percussive "Mid-Town" creates a soundtrack of frenzied movement. The sleepy, jazz-washed accompaniment of "Fade" uses Jim Morrison influenced lyrics to excellent brooding effect, and a lonely melody played on accordion with sparse accompaniment builds with intensity in "Untitled III." Calexico transports you with its infectiously organic, analog feel.
Rolling Stone (6/22/00, p.135) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A lazy dissolving dream of a record that glimmers in and out like a mirage and sharpens to a hard focus with songs like 'Sonic Wind'....conjuring a phantom photograph of the American West, overgrown with cactus and the unemployed."
Entertainment Weekly (5/19/00, p.74) - "...Burrows deep into south-of-the-border territory, with authentic waltz-time instrumentals, then warbles murder ballads and emotional road-kill tales that sound like Will Oldham fronting a mariachi band." - Rating: A-
Q (6/00, p.102) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Highly evocative....sounding like a collection of offcuts from Orson Welles' 'A Touch Of Evil'....Accordions, melodica, trumpets and vibes give the album a haunting ambience..."
Magnet (8-9/00, pp.68-9) - "You'll need all the quiet you can possibly summon to hear the layered nuances embedded in the grooves of HOT RAIL....It's eerie quiet makes it so memorable....Seek not to label but to listen."
The Wire (5/00, p.63) - "...Combines scorched soundtracks with moody ballads....adding more impressionistic interludes and vocal tracks..."
CMJ (5/8/00, p.27) - "...Unfurls dramatically, with more colors and a sharper eye for detail....backed by sumptuous horns, slide guitars and more, HOT RAIL sounds like a collaborative effort between the Buena Vista Social Club, a wild-eyed wunderkind producer and a Gram Parsons-influenced rock star..."
Melody Maker (5/30/00, p.57) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...a mix of down-home country charms and knowingly worldly sophistication....made for everyone who's ever come second in any of life's duels. Beautiful."
Mojo (Publisher) (5/00, p.93) - "...A beautiful, accomplished work....The lyrics are resigned and weary but the music is sensuous and evocative."