The Code – XIXA (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

I’m the first to admit that I’ve never visited the southern states of America, I’ve never seen the sand-covered, dusty tracks of Arizona or Texas, or spent time at the border of Mexico but when I hear anything resembling cumbia music, I’m instantly sitting in a Tijuana bar taking in the sights (and heat) of the town.

Arizona band XIXA have somehow managed to stuff so much imagery into four songs that it feels like a small holiday to the bustling markets of Mexico. We start with percussion and driving guitar riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Robert Rodriguez movie, all served up with a menacing, haunting vocal telling you to beware, to turn away – but remember to pass the gift shop on the way.

The whole EP is an enjoyable ride into Americana, rock and those percussive sounds from south of the border and these influences all tumble together to make a wonderful concoction.

There are twists and turns, a little like a movie car chase, there is fast driving, exciting turns and changes of pace here and there. Opening track ‘The Code’ has lyrics that wouldn’t sound out of place in the bylaws of Sicily and a clever tempo change two thirds of the way in and sets up the following three songs nicely.

‘Kumbia Okvlt’ is a head-nodding slice of percussion and backing vocals (with a cool synth sound at the intro – another curveball – something that shouldn’t fit but does) putting in mind a journey on horseback through the dusty hills of miles and miles of nothing but cactus and thirst. There is a wonderful feeling of homage throughout and the EP never puts a foot wrong, closing song ‘Mantra’ has a fantastic musical break with trumpet and strings, reinforcing the grasp this band has on their sound.

If you like your rock to pull in different influences, to proudly hinge on the psychedelic, with those Central American percussion and brass, come on in and enjoy yourself, you won’t be disappointed.


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