CULTURE

Indie-mariachi, enduring popsters and brooding rock close summer

Most of the country’s imported concert events for the summer have either passed or, in many cases, been canceled. But the few shows remaining this season deserve mention. Consider Calexico, the popular American band with the Tex-Mex sound, booked for two shows late next month. In a slightly unorthodox move, however, neither of the shows will be staged in Athens. The band is set to perform at Aretsou Beach in Thessaloniki on August 28 and on the island of Crete at Iraklion’s Nikos Kazantzakis Amphitheater the following night. Calexico’s adventurous and pensive music has gradually elevated it to the contemporary scene’s forefront in recent years. The band’s two shows in Greece are part of a 44-date tour of Europe and the US promoting their latest album and showcasing old favorites. Calexico, who have performed several shows in this country since 1998’s breakthrough album «The Black Light,» released a new album, «Garden Ruin,» last April, which, compared to its predecessors, is a less dramatic effort. For the first time since Joey Burns and John Convertino – Calexico’s core duo – began releasing work, there are no sprawling instrumentals, and there is less emphasis on the elaborate arrangements of the past. Instead, the material on this latest effort is more disciplined and, at times, rocks more. It’s a sound that diverges considerably from the band’s four preceding studio albums, which accentuated their distinctive indie-mariachi sound. Burns and Convertino may have changed this sound on «Garden Ruin,» but the worthy act’s hallmarks are all still there, lurking below the duo’s more song-based material. Another local favorite, Depeche Mode, the British band whose lasting power has been phenomenal, is scheduled to perform one show in Greece in exactly one week’s time, next Tuesday, at the Terra Vibe venue in Malakassa on the northern outskirts of Athens. This latest visit comes 21 summers after Depeche Mode’s first ever Greek performance, as part of an impressive lineup at Athens’s first major rock festival that included acts such as the Clash, the Stranglers, Nina Hagen, the Cure, and Culture Club. In the two decades since, Depeche Mode have gradually reinvented themselves from their bouncier electro-pop earlier days to a darker, more dramatic sound that has positioned the band among the alternative circuit’s more popular acts. Considering the well-publicized rough stretch endured by the band in the mid-1990s, when frontman David Gahan attempted suicide and soon after entered a drug rehabilitation clinic to battle heroin addiction, Depeche Mode’s ensuing moodier work is not surprising. The aforementioned drama kept the band away from music for about four years, but Depeche Mode managed to return as a solid and inspired unit of songwriters and performers. The act’s most recent album, last year’s «Playing the Angel,» a top-10 hit, generally rates as one of Depeche Mode’s best releases. In recent remarks, Gahan said being in the band these days felt better than it had in 15 years. Depeche Mode released «Violator,» a highlight in the British act’s discography, in 1990. Opening for Depeche Mode will be the Raveonettes, a more recent hit maker from Denmark with an American retro-cool sound. Well-timed for the mass influx of returning Athenians from their summertime destinations, two more enduring acts of the 1980s are scheduled for shows here. Simply Red has been booked for Terra Vibe on September 3. Nick Cave, accompanied by a reduced version of his Bad Seeds – bassist Martyn Casey (the Triffids), violinist Warren Ellis (Dirty Three) and drummer Jim Sclavunos (the Cramps) – are scheduled for a night at the Lycabettus Theater on September 22.