Album Review: Mariachi El Bronx (II) by Mariachi El Bronx
Great, Based on 6 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
If there was any doubt that the gringo Angeleno hardcore punks in the Bronx were dead serious about their Mexican folk alter ego -- and for anyone who's spent time with Mariachi El Bronx's 2009 self-titled debut (or caught the twin bands' rollicking, identity-shifting live shows) there certainly was not -- the outfit's second album offers ironclad reassurance that this is no novelty act. Not messing with a good thing, the group takes essentially the same approach this time around -- even the album title's the same -- but the results exhibit a subtle yet significant improvement in almost every respect: both the production and the performances are notably crisper and punchier; the arrangements are richer and more complex, full of swirling, soaring strings; the stylistic range is successfully broadened (to encompass cumbia, norteño, and bolero), and the passion and fire on display are simply undeniable. And the songs, in particular, are uniformly strong and memorable, with highlights including the raucous, tempo-shifting instrumental "Mariachi El Bronx," the fun, flirtatious "Norteño Lights," and especially the tremendous, white-hot single "48 Roses," a philanderer's furiously impassioned plea for dubiously deserved forgiveness ("With four different lovers and 48 roses/I need a confessional that never closes").
Crass proclaimed punk dead almost thirty years ago. And in terms of its relevancy as a dangerous, revolutionary cultural movement, they were right. But musically the genre “punk” lives on in the 21st century. However, a band can only make so many albums with aggressive, distorted, three-chord anthems before getting bored, no matter how authentic or DIY they might be.
Mariachi outfits at the ready... When The Bronx made the transition from punk behemoths to mariachi aficionados two years ago, the only thing more surprising than the decision itself was the quality with which they carried out such a bold and (to some) ridiculous move. As soulful and finely crafted as their debut of sorts, 'II' is a glorious record.
New Musical Express (NME) - 70 Based on rating 3.5/5
If ever there was a band that reinforced the essence of punk in the modern age it’s The Bronx. It’s not just their hardcore principles – there are many bands reading from that hymn sheet. It’s the kind of spirit that means that upon being asked to perform acoustic for a TV show, they didn’t decide the most man-damning tack to take would be to pull down their pants and roast a flaming turd on the studio floor.
In 2007, LA-based outfit The Bronx decided to spice things up with their hardcore punk/rock aesthetics, and branched out with an alter-ego of sorts, Mariachi El Bronx. Dressed in black charro apparel for live performances, and relying on acoustic guitars and a vibrant horn section, Mariachi released their self-titled debut album to some acclaim, and will likely continue that reception with their second release, the similarly-titled Mariachi El Bronx (II). As a band, Mariachi El Bronx could not be more different from The Bronx; so, those expecting a dash of punk should look elsewhere.
The sound of Mexico comes alive on LA group’s fabulous second album. Ian Winwood 2011 In March of last year Mariachi el Bronx were invited to take part in an evening of Mariachi music staged at London’s Barbican centre. The leading practitioners of the form were also invited to appear – but, and at least to the casual ear, the group reviewed here stood equal to such esteemed company.