On August 2, ATO Records/MapleMusic Recordings will release Mariachi El Bronx (II), the second full-length studio album from Mariachi El Bronx, the alter ego of acclaimed Los Angeles-based punk outfit The Bronx. The band teamed up once again with John Avila, former member of Oingo Boingo, to co-produce the album, which was recorded this past Christmas and New Year’s at Avila’s studio, Brando’s Paradise in San Gabriel, CA.
“Going acoustic and dressing in black charro outfits is probably the punkest move they could have taken; El Bronx negotiate in exactly the same way as The Bronx – they don’t,” said NME of the band’s self-titled 2009 debut. “They fear nothing, explore everything and create from the rawest of emotion, making imperfections the very best bits.”
In recent years, The Bronx has redefined what punk means, releasing three self-titled full-length albums and a deluge of 7 inches and EPs. Mariachi El Bronx was conceived in 2006, after The Bronx was asked to perform unplugged on Fuel TV. Believing that nothing sucks more than rock bands playing acoustic songs, they adopted another style of music endemic to Los Angeles and infinitely better suited for an acoustic performance – mariachi music. The experience unearthed something unexpected, what the band likens to discovering a second soul within. Touring the world as The Bronx, they simultaneously began writing songs for Mariachi El Bronx. In 2007, Vincent Hidalgo, son of David Hidalgo (Los Lobos, Latin Playboys), joined the lineup and everything came together.
Mariachi El Bronx (II) bristles with intensity, drama and emotion – hallmarks of both mariachi and punk music. The 12-song collection contemplates the nature of love – a traditional topic in mariachi music, as men often hire bands to serenade the women they are courting – but Mariachi El Bronx brings a unique sensibility to the subject. The adrenalized album opener “48 Roses” paints a picaresque portrait of a man with an insatiable appetite for love while the percolating “Revolution Girls” details a border romance and “Poverty’s King” concerns a man tries to overcome class distinctions with a catchy come-on. A more somber note is struck in the tale of a fallen “Matador” and the bittersweet “Everything Dies.” “Mariachi El Bronx.” a tour-de-force instrumental, features Reyna de Los Angeles, America's first all female mariachi ensemble.
Mariachi El Bronx – comprising Matt Caughthran (vocals), Joby J. Ford (vihuela), Jorma Vik (drums), Brad Magers (trumpet), Ken Mochikoshi Horne (jarana), Vincent Hidalgo (guitarrón) and Ray Suen (violin) – has been performing selections from the upcoming album in concert. You can check out the band’s recent performance at the Sasquatch Music Festival, courtesy of NPR, at: