THE BRONX
"Bronx VI"

(Cooking Vinyl)

01. White Shadow
02. Superbloom
03. Watering The Well
04. Curb Feelers
05. Peace Pipe
06. High Five
07. Mexican Summer
08. New Lows
09. Breaking News
10. Jack of All Trades
11. Participation Trophy

RATING: 8/10

Los Angeles punk rock stalwarts THE BRONX has returned with its sixth album. It's titled, ahem, "Bronx VI", changing things up since its predecessor was "V" and all previous albums were simply titled "The Bronx". Silly jokes and simplicity aside, THE BRONX is a fantastic punk rock band that fully embraces the depth of rock 'n' roll and all forms of guitar-oriented music. Their songs are reliably memorable, and their delivery is extremely passionate, especially that of frontman Matt Caughthran. The Californians have yet to release a subpar album, and that remains true with "Bronx VI".

The ensemble's hard-hitting rock 'n' roll energy and original take on punk rock sound is as fresh as ever, right from the get-go with album opener "White Shadow". "Watering The Well" follows with a stronger focus upon melody, and a celebration of hedonism is evident as Caughthran roars, "I know what you're thinking. Two wrongs don't make a right, but two wrongs feel all right tonight." The band's charging, percussive assault has always worked in tandem with its inclination for melody, but the driving, punchy beats have never sounded as robust as they do now, since they drafted in drummer Joey Castillo, whose impressive resume includes QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, CIRCLE JERKS, SUGARTOOTH and DANZIG.

Elsewhere, the band's rugged garage rock aesthetic comes to the forefront on "Curb Feelers" and "New Low", songs that remain energetic and manic without ever becoming unhinged. "Peace Pipe" boasts nuanced, mid-tempo material that's incredibly soulful and rich with melancholy. Indeed, THE BRONX has always excelled in terms of songwriting depth. And "Mexican Summer" taps into that key ingredient that's so core to THE BRONX's sound: mariachi. The song isn't by any means full-on mariachi in style, but the flavor is most certainly present, not surprising considering that THE BRONX has a split personality, so to speak, as the band also performs as MARIACHI EL BRONX. The band's long-standing marriage of punk and mariachi has resulted in a few albums released under that moniker, a musical cross-pollination stemming from Los Angeles' rich cultural diversity.

"Bronx VI" isn't by any means a conventional punk rock album. And that's exactly what makes it authentic. Punk was never about following a rulebook. With "Bronx VI", THE BRONX continues to creatively wander wherever the hell they want to, and they make it sound so damn good.

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