Remember the commotion The Bronx stirred up at their inception? The band had a major label bidding war on their hands after their second show and signed with Island Def Jam with barely a dozen shows under their belt. Instead of producing the slickly-produced sugary sort of chart-topping anthems that were masquerading as punk at the time, the band spewed a venomous batch of critically acclaimed self-titled albums that split the difference between modern hardcore and punk progenitors like The Stooges and The MC5.

So you’ll forgive me if I’m somewhat startled to put on The Bronx’s latest effort, Mariachi El Bronx, and hear, well, actual mariachi music. Punk’s great 21st century hope fancies itself a mariachi band. Let me reiterate this, in case you didn’t catch me the first time: From opener “Cell Mates” to closer “My Love,” The Bronx’s latest record is a mariachi album. Violins, trumpets, Spanish guitar, vihuela. No distortion, no yelling, all Mexican wedding music.

And it’s pretty excellent. I don’t know much about mariachi, but this is a well-orchestrated burst of Mexican joy. “Silver Or Lead” is a barnburner with deft acoustic breaks and tight drumming. “Holy” is a somber minor-key piece that still manages to provoke some hip-shaking. “My Love” is a simple lover’s lament. If giving the finger to the expectations placed upon your band isn’t the true spirit of punk, I don’t know what is.

Oh, and there’s an accompanying cologne. It’s called Barrio Sweat. You can’t make this stuff up.

In A Word: Arriba!
Grade: B

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