I never thought I’d review a mariachi album, but…what can I say, this is good stuff. Plus, I live in Southern California which is probably the mariachi capital outside of Mexico. It was bound to rub off on me.
To be honest, I haven’t quite made the complete cultural transition. Mariachi El Bronx is authentic without following the rules (does that make sense?). I mean, their frontman sings in English which I think is considered ‘breaking the rules’ in the mariachi genre.
If you live in Los Angeles and you kinda like punk music, then you have to know the Bronx. Recognized for their loud mechanics, speed, angst, emotion and deep hallow growl, the Bronx have been exceptionally consistent. Even now I still find it nearly impossible to select my favorite album. Presently, Mariachi El Bronx takes punk to a new level again with their second album as their Mexican folk alter egos.
I have recently listened to their new album (…and so can you… http://www.myspace.com/thebronx/music/playlists/mariachi-el-bronx-ii-2740009) , set to release August 2nd 2011, and again was blown away. What I once thought was inconceivable, a hardcore punk band churning out legitimate Mexi-folk music, has now manifested itself as downright credible.
It is exhilarating to listen to a band attemp to expand their range and succeed in doing so. Mariachi El Bronx, not unlike The Pogues did for their style of music, only use authentic Mariachi instruments like acoustic guitars, vihuela and trumpets. The vocals are, of course, softer than your typical Bronx albums, but still manage to keep a punk-edge at the heart of things. Their lyrics (all in English, thank God) manage to conjure the abandonment, love-lost, and storytelling of mariachi without making it sound too cartoonish.
I’m sure the real Mexican cat who grew up to mariachi music would argue that Mariachi El Bronx is folk for “pinche wedos” but, whatever, fuck them. This is good music and most likely something you never thought you would learn to appreciate. I am no mariachi scholar, but I’m sure these guys would sound musically appealing to even the most hardcore mariachi fans.
When you think back, the Bronx is not the first band to look for inspiration in other genres. Cream/Clapton experimented with American blues. Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly are both punk bands that channel old Irish music. Madness made a career playing Rocksteady/reggae influenced music. The Clash also played with reggae influences. Let’s not even get started on Sting’s career. I think in comparison, Mariachi El Bronx do their mariachi mentors a proper justice.
Mariachi El Bronx will be hosting their record release party at La Cita in Downtown LA, August 2nd and August 3rd. buy your tickets here: http://www.mariachielbronx.tickets.musictoday.com/MariachiElBronx/calendar.aspx
They will also be performing on The Tonight Show August 3rd.