Home Read Classic Album Review: ABBC | Tête à Tête

Classic Album Review: ABBC | Tête à Tête

Calexico's main men put their heads together with a pair of French experimenters.

This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


The two latter letters in this quartet’s initialized handle stand for names that will be familiar to fans of Calexico, Giant Sand and OP8 — multi-instrumentalists Joey Burns and John Convertino lead the first act in that list, play in the other two, and also work with a handful of other performers like Vics Chesnutt and Williams.

On Tête à Tête, they put their heads together with French musical experimentalists Naïm Amor and Thomas Belhom on a set of intimate, stylishly cinematic tracks. Not surprisingly, the tunes are best described as a Continental Calexico, with John and Joey’s trademark dusty textures and twangy vistas topped by jaded, pack-a-day vocals and Left Bank accordions and violins. Think Tom Waits and Serge Gainsbourg writing the score to a Western starring Marianne Faithfull and you understand where these guys are coming from. And if you’re a fan of any of those performers, you just might feel that in ABBC’s case, four heads are better than one.