REVIEW: The Bronx – Bronx VI

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While the original punk movement kind of fizzled out at the end of the 1970s, that specific kind of raw power that it encapsulated has emerged every now and then, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places, such as the grunge dives and the skateparks of the 1990s. Still, 40 years after its alleged extinction, it rears up its mohawked head here and there, if only to show that the rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated. If truth be said, without punks, the world of music would look rather bleak. On occasion, we need exactly that kind of energy – and it is even better if the punk aesthetics are being delivered with a touch of originality. The Los Angeles -based punk rockers, THE BRONX, offer just that on their sixth studio album “Bronx VI,” due out on August 27th, 2021, via Cooking Vinyl. Bristling with the untamed energy of youth, the somewhat trademark sign of the whole punk scene from the start, the album comes jam-packed not only with soaring punk riffs but also with some chilled-out mariachi vibes and even a bit of existential dread. So it is in evidence that these punks are about something more than just warming up 3-minute “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!” pastiches from the past.

The album opener, “White Shadow,” jumps on you right away with the vehemence of an angry pitbull. The band’s vocalist, Matt Caughthran, belts out with a voice somewhat reminiscent of Johnny Rotten while the guitars weave riffs that echo the sleazy garage-rock of HELLACOPTERS. This is exactly the kind of music that, for the magic to take proper physical and psychological effect, needs to be played as loud as possible.

Mostly, the new songs are constructed as 3-minute punch-ups, like rounds in a boxing match, but the relentless beating is cleverly paused with a few well-placed tracks that show different facets of the band. “Watering the Well” resonates with an almost ROLLING STONES -like air and the guitar textures in the verses of “Peace Pipe” could fit the leftover grunge jam of late SOUNDGARDEN quite easily, maybe minus the pedestrian backbeat.

The definitive stand-out track on the album is the mariachi-vibed “Mexican Summer,” by which THE BRONX kind of pay homage to their alter-ego, MARIACHI EL BRONX. Who would have guessed that the Latin vibes and punk go so well together?! Then again, it seems that most mariachi song lyrics deal with themes such as machismo, politics, and revolutionary heroes. In a way, they seem to share an interest or two with the original punk ideology. Whatever the band’s original reason for fusing these two seemingly incompatible styles together, it just works – or to put in the words of Austin Powers, it’s “groovy, baby!”

“Groovy” is exactly the word to describe also the album’s closing track, “Participation Trophy.” While funking out with an infectuously groovy guitar riff, laced with the defiant and exuberant vitality of youth, the lyrics hardly mask the subtle undercurrent of existential dread. The gritty, offbeat punk is slightly reminiscent of the late Australian posse, MAMMAL, in the way the angry guitar riffs are syncopated with the laid-back grooves of sweaty funk and the way the lyrics aren’t just about drunken moshing to 3-minute punk bangers.

The new studio offering by THE BRONX is punk rock at its finest – an assault of raw energy with a touch of ingenuity. Then again, it is the least to expect from a band whose entry into the music industry with their debut album was recorded, quite unusually, in the kitchen of the ex-GUNS & ROSES guitarist, Gilby Clarke.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. White Shadow   
  2. Superbloom   
  3. Watering the Well   
  4. Curb Feelers   
  5. Peace Pipe   
  6. High Five   
  7. Mexican Summer   
  8. New Lows   
  9. Breaking News   
  10. Jack Of All Trades   
  11. Participation Trophy

Lineup

Matt Caughthtran – Vocals

Joby Ford – Guitars

Ken Horne – Guitars

Brad Magers – Bass

Joey Castillo – Drums

Label

Cooking Vinyl

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