September 12, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

Something odd happened five years ago: The Bronx, a band full of white dudes from Los Angeles who’d previously debuted to plenty of hype in 2003, seemed to be losing a bit of creative steam. They still rocked to be sure, but three self-titled albums in, their formula was perhaps ringing a little stale. Then again, hype itself is finite and fleeting by its very nature. People move on to different things, and that can often unfairly color one’s perception of a band’s talent or accomplishments. The Bronx had come out swinging in the beginning, and to this day refer to The Bronx I‘s fiery opener “Heart Attack American” as their mission statement. Maybe the band burning themselves out fairly quickly could have been predicted. Maybe there is no revolution after all.

The notion that some sort of diversion can reinvigorate creativity in a person or group is fairly common. Ruts in this case are usually temporary, and can be aided by simply trying something different for a change. Even if the other thing doesn’t necessarily work, it can exercise and recalibrate the brain, potentially reopening the floodgates. Mariachi El Bronx seemed borne out of need for a diversion, but ended up as unfadable relámpago en una botella with longer legs than anyone could’ve guessed.Whether or not the surprising deft and excellence of Mariachi El Bronx’s first two albums helped The Bronx recapture their swagger on 2012’s extremely hard rocking The Bronx IV is anyone’s guess, but the correlation is difficult to ignore. It’s also arguable that The Bronx’s alter ego are far more popular and critically acclaimed than the original band, for whatever that’s worth.

Now, after three years being themselves, Mariachi El Bronx are primed to return with their third album (all Bronx records of either iteration are self-titled, so far) on Nov. 4. The first song released, “New Beat,” is predictably excellent, with captivating percussion-fueled rhythms, a heavy horn section and vocalist Matt Caughthran’s still-surprisingly adept pipes. Maybe it’s the production, but the song has a deepness to it never before portrayed by the band which suits them quite well.