The Bronx proves itself in polar opposite genres; other recent releases excel and languish


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Los Angeles punk band The Bronx returns after five years with a new album titled The Bronx IV

Shane Miller

The Bronx has proved itself in polar opposite genres. After three self-titled punk albums, The Bronx I, II and III, the band turned heads in 2009 when it announced a transition to classical mariachi music under the alter ego “Mariachi El Bronx.” The band’s mariachi albums, again self-titled as Mariachi El Bronx I and II, almost eclipsed its punk releases. After proving its musicianship in an obscure genre and going five years without a punk album, the band is reverting back to their original style with The Bronx IV. 

“I think that after doing the mariachi records, it gave us a whole new outlook and a more structured way of writing music. We figured out what works best,” drummer Jorma Vik said in a press release. “Everything is less spazzy. Matt [Caughthran] doesn’t scream as much, but he’s got that thing in his voice where he can scream in pitch — mariachi has helped his confidence as a singer and ours as songwriters.”

The album opens with “The Unholy Hand,” detailing the band’s take on the invisible hand of capitalism. The song sets the tone for the album — catchy, abrasive and energetic, a faster Queens of the Stone Age with angrier vocals. The chaos continues with “Along For The Ride,” and the best song on the album “Style Over Everything.” Slower songs like “Torches” are breaking new ground for the band. The Bronx even developed the ability to create a slow punk song consisting only of vocals backed by distorted guitar in “Life Less Ordinary.” 

The musical simplicity of punk is a constraining factor for countless bands, but The Bronx doesn’t care. There’s no glittery production or effects, it’s straightforward, catchy punk rock that pushes the band’s limits, but not necessarily the genre’s. After a five-year wait, the return to its roots does it justice.  

Josh Groban’s signature corny style is in full effect on his sixth release, All That Echoes. The virtuoso singer has sold millions of albums for a good reason, but it is still hard to take him seriously. It is easy to recognize the musical talent that went into All That Echoes – the music is symphonic and his voice is flawless, but regardless, the album is hard to listen to because of all the corn.  

In the vein of folkish-revival, Frightened Rabbit is the better version of Mumford and Sons with less recognition. The Scottish band hits the indie nail on the head with Pedestrian Verse, playing well-constructed music with inspiring lyrics. Detailed songs like “The Woodpile” and the last song, “The Oil Slick” have an infinite replay value. 

The best part about Joe Budden is his ability to procure better rappers like Wiz Khalifa, Royce da 5’9” and Lil Wayne for guest vocals. Produced by Eminem, the 17 tracks clock in at an unnecessary 72 minutes and try to do too much. Budden claimed this album is the final piece of his four-part concept album series detailing his newfound maturity as an artist, but he’s still struggling to find his own niche in the rap game.

Printed on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 as: The Bronx circles back to punk rock roots