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Mariachi El Bronx - Mariachi El Bronx

It was always one that would have eyebrows raised, but LA firebrand punks, The Bronx, are keen to reassure us how much sense it makes that they've decided to make an album of Mariachi music.

Released 17 Aug 2009 // By Phill May // Rating: 3/5
Mariachi El Bronx - Mariachi El Bronx

It was always one that would have eyebrows raised, but LA firebrand punks, The Bronx, are keen to reassure us how much sense it makes that they've decided to make an album of Mariachi music. It is, as they claim, as much of a soundtrack to Southern California as the punk music that they do so well.

So what is there for fans of their day job? Not much on a first impression; it sounds exactly how someone with little knowledge of mariachi would expect it to – plenty of trumpet, acoustic guitar (or Requinto, or Vihuela) and waltzing oom-pah-pah rhythms. Once you put aside the surreal concept, you'll notice that there are some fantastic songs on this album. 'Litigation''s uplifting rhythms belie Matt Caughtran's witty lyrics, opener 'Cell Mates' is ludicrously catchy and 'Slave Labour''s fiery pace and clattering drums make it the album highlight.

It's in these darker lyrics that you will be reminded just who this band are; and as well as the intelligent, witty content, it also allows Caughtran's soulful voice to absolutely shine, crooning and lilting, vulnerable and sarcastic as needed, it proves they don't have to be shouting to show passion. Behind him, the rest of the band are incredible, playing a range of instruments that keep everything lively and sparkling.

As good as 'Mariachi El Bronx' is, many here in the UK may feel too dislocated from this music, and others may not be able to get past the prospect of visceral punks dressing in Charro costumes, but the open-minded will find this a charming slice of something different.