IT was the end of a long week, and I am in a dark bar in sultry heat, a light beer with a wedge of lime jammed in the neck in front of me for sipping and the cares of the working-man's life slipping easily from my mind.

Then I'm aware of a pair of shapely pins being leisurely crossed on the bar stool next to me, and I look round and catch her eye. Shoot, there goes the rent money. . .

This reverie may have transported me during the live incarnation of Para, the stand-out classic on Calexico's new album Algiers, where it has plenty of high quality competition. But equally I may have been swept away from the very first bars of a set that was as near flawless as makes no odds.

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The septet (this time out) led by the vocals and guitar of Joey Burns, pictured above, and drums of John Convertino has reached a pinnacle of atmospheric music making at which they have very few peers. With sensational guitar and pedal steel on one flank and stand-up or electric bass on the other, the centre of the mix is the group's trademark twin trumpets (Jacob Valenzuela and Martin Venk, doubling on vibes) and the keyboards of Sergio Mendoza. Every detail is crystal clear and every note beautifully played. This is rock'n'roll as chamber music of the highest quality, so it is fitting that the ensemble embraces some classics of the repertoire as well as its own classy material. If you believed nothing could be added to Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart or Love's Alone Again Or you are very wrong.

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