Album Review: Mariachi El Bronx – “III”
Not content with being one of the best punk bands around, The Mariachi alter-ego of LA punks The Bronx have returned with their third full-length release. Initially you’d be forgiven for thinking this was all a bit of a gimmick, but three albums in this side-project is going from strength to strength.
Rather than following the more traditional sound of their previous records, III sees the band adopt an experimental approach. Mixed in with the Latino sounds are smatterings of synthesizers and electronic parts. These add an extra element of depth and texture to the music. This fusion is immediately obvious in opener New Beat, with its combination of Latin guitar and trumpet flourishes and a mid-song synth breakdown.
However, these extra facets do not overpower the classic Mariachi sound, which is united so effectively with a pop-sensibility. Tracks like Wildfire showcase this, with a blistering trumpet performance by The Bronx bassist Brad Magers, and vocalist Matt Caughthran’s clean vocal delivery is an absolute delight. It’s a huge contrast to the ‘day-job’, but oh-so effective.
Each song has many layers. You immediately pick up on the vocals, guitar and trumpets; however if you listen closer you can hear interesting percussion, odd synth parts and orchestral flourishes. Up-tempo numbers like Raise The Dead and Everything Twice certainly benefit from this. With tracks like High Tide and Nothing’s Changed, this depth adds to the emotion of the vocal delivery. This attention to detail is what takes this album away from being merely ‘good’ to being exceptional.
Melodic and emotive with serious depth of sound, III is the best Mariachi El Bronx release to date. The combination of electronic and synth elements with the traditional Mariachi sound makes for a unique twist on the genre.