Calexico's Attention Migrates to T-shirts

Tex-Mex Band Writes, Records Song for Threadless

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'Bird Migration' design

Composing on command is an extreme test of a songwriter's work ethic. Whereas I avoid the wrath of Ad Age's cruel whipmasters by hastily mashing together subjects and predicates to form "blog posts" day after day, artists are often forced to rely on "inspiration," and they are rarely under the gun -- Axl Rose's 14-year fail journey comes to mind.

So let's all admire Tucson-based Tex-Mex band Calexico and its new song "Absent Afternoon," which it wrote and recorded for Threadless using the t-shirt "Bird Migration" (at left) for inspiration. As part of a recent "Threadless Loves Travel" contest in conjunction with Icelandair, artist and Mexican breakdancer Alex Solis's winning design of a bird carrying its house and possessions on its back became the basis of the track, which is available for free downloading and streaming. For his efforts, Solis won a trip with his wife to Iceland, a travel bag from Dakine and $1,000 to spend on a travel site, as if having Calexico write a song about his creation wasn't enough.

While Calexico is the most well-known artist to contribute a track to the Threadless community, its not the first. Bedroom folk artist Owen composed the song "Sailing the High Trees" as part of a similar promotion in 2006, and Bob Nanna, promotions coordinator for Threadless and former member of Hey Mercedes and Braid, has written over 170 short songs for his page on the site. Threadless' relatively new online TV channel has also featured many interviews with bands, and the site's partner and chief creative officer, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, is a serious metal-head.

Sometimes a little trickle-down on one's t-shirt is a good thing.

Calexico - "Absent Afternoon"