Mariachi El Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx (2011)

Mariachi El Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx (2011)

ATO

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The Bronx certainly turned a few heads in 2009 when they brought forth their mariachi alter-ego and let loose a homage to that finest of Mexican traditions that received positive appraisal and stood apart in the mainstream music world amongst a party of one. Their detractors will most likely either a) not find them trve or kvlt enough to be real mariachi, or b) will describe them as something of a novelty act.
That said, on album number two, Mariachi El Bronx continue to provide the yang to their main, hardcore punk yin, and the result is another batch of enjoyable American mariachi music. While the surprise element isn’t quite the same as it was on album number one, they still know how to write catchy, quality songs, and Matt Caughthran’s voice still provides all the passion necessary to capture the spirit of this music. Arguably, it’s a step up from the first album; with better all round production and punchier, more complex songs casting aside any doubt that this just for novelty value.

Romance is largely the theme and it prevails in many of the album’s highlights, particularly the opener ’48 Roses’ and the infectious ‘Revolution Girls’. There’s also the polka stylings of ‘Norteño Lights’, a number so charming you’d have to possess a heart of stone not to fall in love with it. There’s even some sort of mariachi/salsa hoedown on the title-track, which features another mariachi band, the all-female ensemble Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles.
Other themes include bullfighting (‘Matador’), abandonment (‘The Great Provider’) and death and salvation (‘Bodies of Christ’, ‘Everything Dies’), and it’s during the more sombre themes that Mariachi El Bronx excels at particularly well. Caughthran manages to offer a quieter refrain in some of these moments, and the variation provided by the band at these points displays just how much they understand the music and its cultural aspects through their heartfelt sincerity for it.
So crank this album up and enjoy the remaining twenty days of British summer, particularly while the sun is still shining – and yes, as I write this, it is cracking the flags outside again. In September! – because The Bronx have once again created a record more than capable of robar tu corazón.
 
Peter Clegg
Mariachi El Bronx’ (2011) isn’t released in the UK until Monday September 5th. It’s currently available for streaming here
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