Album review: Mariachi El Bronx – ‘Mariachi El Bronx’

Beneath the costumes and Latino rhythms beats a punk heart

When one of our favourite hardcore bands announced they’d been working on a mariachi project, we wondered if it was for comedic value. On our side of the Atlantic this venture could have been greeted with a wall of confused silence, but the LA outfit have achieved something special. And not just musically; they’ve allowed us a small education in traditional Hispanic sounds and informed us that LA has not one but two beating hearts, blending the sort of creativity into its people most Hollywood composers would kill for.

‘Cell Mates’, ‘Litigation’ and ‘Slave Labour’ offer an introduction into the album’s beautiful contradiction: trumpets and gracefully plucked guitarrón uplifting the often sad lyrics. On ‘Quinceniera’, having swapped growls for croons, Matt Caughthran explains, “The dead can dance if they want romance/All I need is some air”, the sound, perhaps, of Tim Burton gritting a drooping rose between his teeth as he serves Helena Bonham Carter breakfast in bed. ‘Silver Or Lead’ begs “Please quit asking Jesus for help/Go out and find it yourself”. It’s probably really wrong to feel sexy while someone’s singing about Jesus, especially because [a]Madonna[/a] did it first but, crikey, we’re waiting for Zorro to break through the window and throw the Bible clear out of sight.

Not every Bronx fan is gonna love this, but reasons to absorb a little slice of Mexican culture via this record (and not, God forbid, swine flu) far outweigh those which would see the snobby shy away. After all, going acoustic and dressing in black charro outfits is probably the punkest move they could have taken; El Bronx negotiate in exactly the same way as The Bronx – they don’t. They fear nothing, explore everything and create from the rawest of emotion, making imperfections the very best bits. As the British summer gets ever more temperamental, it’s with a giant hug
and a shot of tequila that we welcome mariachi into our lives.

Kelly Murray

What do you think of the album? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Click here to get your copy of ‘Mariachi El Bronx’ from the Rough Trade shop.