Like most good things, people always have a way of finding out about it. Even when hardcore punk rock bands have a mariachi side project that ends up gaining more momentum than their aforementioned musical pursuit. Random good things like that.
As a writer, and indeed one that tends to sway towards a more musical persuasion, I felt it my need, nay my duty to tell you fine people about the good I have discovered; instead of allowing the likes of a certain newspaper’s dismal album review section to take a piece of the melodic apple pie. Not just try and take a slice, but mush it up and add turpentine. Especially when it comes to one of my most beloved bands, Mariachi El Bronx.
For those that know of the Los Angeles bred band The Bronx, it is either a love or a hate relationship with their mariachi counterpart. Some either love it to pieces or hate it with unabashed vehemence. Either way, I have learned not to mention Mariachi El Bronx at a Bronx gig (see my review of the band at the Corner Hotel earlier this year also on my blog).
I was initially introduced to Mariachi El Bronx, as an after thought to their hardcore namesake. I was surprised and contented to know that such an artist, as front man Matt Caughthran, could switch and change from one genre to the other, without forsaking either. I was besotted with Mariachi El Bronx’s first album, and the second one was met with the same amount of excitement and warmth.
Not only because my boyfriend and I are now obsessed with mariachi music and are going to Mexico after New York in only a matter of weeks, the Bronx have managed to make this traditional, lively and sensual music a part of our music palette.
The lyrics are contemporary yet the age old themes are apparent – the words are melancholic, sinful, resentful; full of repent, regret, love and pride.
There is the sensuality of Bodies of Christ with it’s reverberating guitarra, and Caughthran’s smoky vocals. ‘Her legs are like hostages, all tied up in twine. How they would call for me, and beg for their life. Our bodies don’t speak, they cry out like dogs, they stretch towards the sky and scratch at the walls. It’s moments like these, that are stronger than love. Ceiling of stars look down from above. She finished her drink, blew smoke in the air. Said I’ll never tell, and I’ll never care.’
The music caresses you, as your heart breaks listening to the lyrics. You can smell the tobacco, taste the tequila, feel the debauchery and passion.
On the flip side there are the dramatic, violin heavy, percussion thick tracks such as 48 Roses and Map of the World. Trumpet heady, up beat and melodic Great Provider and Revolution Girls; as well as the blissfully romantic Fallen.
Mariachi El Bronx (feat. Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles)is also a great treat, full of whistles, tongue rolls, Spanish quips and sweeping instrumentals. Your feet will have a hard time trying to stay still listening to this track.
Mariachi El Bronx tells a story. It may have a Mexican backdrop and timed to a mariachi‘s beat, but it is a timeless tale of human kind and human emotions. And one that mainstream eyes and ears may soon get to enjoy more of. Having already featured on the Jay Leno show in the US and Triple J in Australia, I can only hope Mariachi El Bronx receive the high calibre reviews they deserve. Let this be a starting point.