It’d be easy to overstate the importance of Arizona alt-country vets Calexico setting up shop in New Orleans to record their seventh studio album, Algiers. Since the mid-’90s, the group has made nearly all its records in Tucson at WaveLab Studios, a recording facility that’s become almost synonymous with the band. Algiers ends a four-year hiatus between studio outings. With the New Orleans backstory, listeners might expect some sort of “Calexico-in-New Orleans” album—slow drags, diminished chord walk-downs, blues stomps—but Algiers still feels decidedly Southwestern. It has the same parched and airy desert quality that all of the group’s records do. What New Orleans does seem to have inspired in Calexico, though, is some of its best songwriting. The songs are all strange, sad tales told as sparse vignettes. It’s a reminder that the band’s members are all great jazzmen at heart—but that’s how they wound up in New Orleans in the first place.