Think Globally: Mariachi El Bronx

Strictly speaking, Mariachi El Bronx are from America. The Los Angeles-based group is actually the moonlighting project of The Bronx, a punk band in the hardcore, Fugazi-ish vein. Originally conceived as a way to avoid doing an acoustic Bronx performance, Mariachi El Bronx has become its own full-fledged entity. In fact, in the three years since the last Bronx album, two discs from Mariachi El Bronx have been released. Just like the parent band, both Mariachi El Bronx albums are self-titled, which makes it a little tricky to track down a particular record. Despite this potential confusion, both albums are packed with inspired takes on traditional south-of-the-border sounds.

Along with the regular five-man lineup of The Bronx, Mariachi El Bronx boasts a number of guest musicians and collaborators. LA mainstay John Avila, longtime bassist for Oingo Boingo, produced both albums and contributed charango (a kind of Peruvian lute). The first album also featured accordion work from Los Lobos frontman David Hidalgo. The songs, mostly sung in English, tell tales of love, revolution and being on the run. Horns, strings and organic perussion create a lively, joyous musical backdrop for the inherently festive songs. When performing live, the band usually performs a set as each of its incarnations. While The Bronx maintains its own following, Mariachi El Bronx is one of the more refreshing side projects/reinventions to come along in years.

Watch: Mariachi El Bronx – “48 Roses” from Mariachi El Bronx (II) on The Tonight Show

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~ by E. on August 9, 2011.

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