Observations: Bronx are a hot band with the Mex factor

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The Independent Culture

Raise your tequila glasses to the Bronx, a Los Angeles punk outfit that have found a novel way to make acoustic sets interesting – with the help of some jalapeño heat. For rather than lamely play a quieter set, they have discovered some unheralded Mexicano roots with their uniformed alter ego – Mariachi el Bronx.

Offered a TV slot, the Bronx decided they were unimpressed with the usual unplugged fodder, explains guitarist Matt Caughthran. "It all started as a way to flip the electric-goes-acoustic performance garbage, because that's never good." As they worked out their arrangements, something clicked. "The project triggered something inside all of us that was unexpected," he continues. "It felt like discovering a second soul." So while the Bronx toured their implacable hardcore punk last year, they wrote material in a Latino style, anywhere from Germany to New Zealand.

Back in LA, with Vincent Hidalgo on board, son of Los Lobos's David, Mariachi El Bronx cemented their sound. The resulting album, Mariachi El Bronx, glows with love for music from south of the border. Rather than simple pastiche, the group immersed themselves in the romantic jarocho and infectious norteño, though unsurprisingly given their urban background, there is a leaning to crime-obsessed narcocorrido in the yearning "Cell Mates" and "My Brother the Gun".

It is a timely move, given how TV coverage of the festival season brings bland strums around ersatz campfires, so if you are at Reading or Leeds this month, prepare to see the troupe brighten the stage in their snazzy costumes.

Mariachi El Bronx's single "Cell Mates" is out now