When I heard that The Bronx was making a Mariachi album, my initial reaction was probably the same as everyone else’s, “It’s a joke and it can’t be any good.” It’s a career move that most bands probably wouldn’t expect or even attempt. I mean, how can four punks from LA possibly pull off making a Mariachi album, let alone making anything worth listening to? Amazingly, after three self-titled albums full of whiskey-throated vocals and glam punk riffing, The Bronx have looked South for influence and become Mariachi El Bronx.
While it’s sung completely in English, Mariachi El Bronx sounds way more authentic that I thought was possible. I’ve got to, however, give significant credit to Vincent Hidalgo, son of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, and David Hidalgo himself, who both play accordion, guitarron and other instruments on Mariachi El Bronx. That being said, it would have been easy for Mariachi El Bronx to be a just a novelty album and a complete failure but the combination of flamenco-style guitar, Latin strings, punchy horns, and Mariachi percussion never even approaches parody. Mariachi El Bronx is one of 2009′s best and most surprising albums.