Mariachi El Bronx – Bronx – Album Review
You know…when I think about it, there’s a true advantage in the music of Mariachi El Bronx in that I can’t for the life of me remember hearing true ‘Mariachi-style’ tunes ever with English vocals before. I’ve certainly heard bands take a departure in their sound for a track or two, and I’ve heard the influence of the Spanish/Mediterranean culture on modern day music in all genres & styles, ranging from bands spread as far apart as Los Lobos and The Mars Volta; but I don’t think I’ve heard a modern-day band bring that true ‘Mariachi’ flavor into the music and own it like Mariachi El Bronx are here on this new album.
[pullquote]Now…if you had asked me yesterday, flat-out, ‘hey do you ever get out of bed and just WISH you could start your day by reviewing Mariachi-music?’ [/pullquote]– I won’t lie to you; I would have said HELL NO. Aside from some killer cuts in Rodriguez & Tarrantino films and a random tableside experience in Costa Rica, I haven’t ever embraced the sound personally…it was always missing a little something, or perhaps I’ve just been hearing it from the wrong sources. I can’t imagine it’s only the English-vocals that have managed to hook me in here; beyond the outstanding talent in musicianship within Mariachi El Bronx, they’ve also cleverly inserted some brilliant pop-hooks, harmonies and melody in their songs, making this an absolutely irresistible crossover sensation.
I’m jumping ahead a bit, but both “High Tide” and “Nothing’s Changed,” are perfect examples of what I mean. Both of these tracks possess such incredible skill in their songwriting craft, providing the perfect blend of their Mariachi-style with just the right amount of pop-melody infused within. The vocals are gorgeous throughout; the music is completely inventive and, at least for me, extremely new in its sound. Let’s face it though – you all know I listen to a ton of music…if I’m telling you it’s ‘new’ – you can take that to the bank and cash it.
Though the album starts a lot closer to the classic Mexicana sound with openers “New Beat,” Wildfires,” and “Sticks And Stones,” Mariachi El Bronx presents their alternate take on the genre immediately with songwriting that is nearly more akin to a band like Cake perhaps than any other. That being said, if you’re not a fan of the John McCrea droning vocals – this would be a thousand times more suitable for you – there is absolutely perfectly suited vocals that fit right into every style, tempo & atmosphere that they present on Bronx.
As a huge fan of the unique, I can’t deny that “Eternal” works for me, big time. This is a perfect song. I love the drums in this track…the whole thing just sounds like it’s swirling in an incredible musical-mist. It rolls along perfectly; flawless vocal flow & delivery…it’s an outstandingly confident track with brilliant use of horns and strings. In many ways, with the true pop-roots of what’s happening in the songwriting of Mariachi El Bronx, you kinda have to wonder if The Beatles themselves might have ended up here if they kept on tabbing up the acid.
The combination of players in this band, and the incredible way they bring themselves together will hook you in as well…I’m not going into Mariachi-land alone, I assure you. LISTEN to the playing on “Raise The Dead” will you? I mean…c’mon…that’s as sickly awesome as it gets right there and an absolute pleasure to follow along with the bouncing-ball of my mind & eardrums. Mariachi El Bronx has managed to do a lot with their sound; again in comparison to a band like Cake who often come out sounding ‘one-note’ (I do love their music incidentally…), back-to-back songs like “Everything Twice” and “Right Between The Eyes,” do a ton to show the true diversity within the music of this band, and their ability to keep you entertained.
As the album closes on “Valya,” they bring in a little more of that sweet, sweet pop-infusion to end the album on a real highlight. It’s sounds like this that have made this album a winner in my ears, and literally changed their opinion on how music in a Mariachi-style goes into them. If you’re like myself, it might be the very last thing you might think you’d reach for…but I can guarantee that if you get even just as far as pushing play on Bronx, you’ll be back for a lot more a lot sooner than you think.
Check out Mariachi El Bronx even more at: https://www.facebook.com/mariachielbronx
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