Thursday, March 4, 2010


The Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx
Swami Records

The Bronx must love taking the piss. They're not even from New York. They're from Los Angeles, California. And in eight years they've released three albums called The Bronx. Now, for some strange reason, they've switched from rock music to mariachi, trading their sneakers and jeans for mariachi suits and matching sombreros. "What's the name of this bizarre fourth Bronx album?" you ask. Mariachi El Bronx, of course.

Surprisingly, there's nothing comedic about it. Mariachi El Bronx is an authentic-sounding slice of Southern Californian mariachi music. A genuine dose of Hispanic culture, courtesy of once hardcore punk rockers The Bronx.

To complete Mariachi El Bronx, The Bronx added Vincent Hidalgo on
guitarrĂ³n. And he's the only Mexican guy in the band. So it's very much a case of white boys playing Spanish music. But they pull it off. From the trumpets, to the percussion, to the perfectly-played collection of Spanish guitars. "Mariachi is every bit as much of a soundtrack to Southern California as punk,” explains frontman Matt Caughthran.

The combination sounds best on tracks like "Slave Labor," "Quinceniera" and "Sleepwalking," that showcase Caughthran's expanded vocal range and blend the new mariachi sound with a complementary, heartbroken-sounding punk rock gruffness. On "Silver Or Lead," the sound swings into RX Bandits territory, as Caughthran sings, "Quit asking Jesus for help, go out and find it yourself..."

A lot of love and attention to detail's been poured into Mariachi El Bronx. There's an understated air of pride and respect for what they're doing that bypasses all accusations of gimicry. Some punks have gone acoustic, The Bronx have gone mariachi.

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