The Bronx - (2008)

Dear, The Bronx,

Okay dudes, we get it, you don't name your albums. But seriously, where the fuck is the mariachi album we've heard so much about? If it gives you joy to make us refer to your album by year, more power to you...

I was introduced to the Bronx back in August of '06 by a couple of guys in my band (at the time.) They kept talking about the new album from this miraculous band and who had the balls to come from California and name themselves after a rough and tumble borough of NYC. I heard a song, and immediately went out and bought the album, because, what the hell the dudes in my band liked it, and I supposed that I should be on the same page. Truth is, I didn't really like them at all the first few listens.
2006 went on the shelf for a few months. When I finally came back to it, it burned itself into my brain permanently, securing itself a place on my top albums of the decade.

No surprise, I was super excited to get my hands on
2008. The buzz around this album on the internet was incredible, in no small part because of the band itself leaking false information and being generally tricky, the perfect combination for a grassroots powerhouse release (See Mariachi Album.)

I guess it could be a symptom of getting older, or maybe it's the thousands of albums that have been swimming in my head for all these years, but when I first grabbed
2008 I found it a huge disappointment. In an email to Kurt I said something like this, "I dunno man, there's absolutely nothing new here." That sentiment lead to a later conversation (I think on the way to the Every Time I Die & Bronx show) where Kurt pointed out that "The Bronx are ACDC." In a way, he's right, but lets be frank here, even sticking to their formula, the Bronx have grown more in three albums, than ACDC has in their entire career, even if the growth has been small steps.

What the Bronx have released is a tight, compact, rock and roll album with an insatiable pop mentality. In this case, pop is not a dirty word. What I didn't pick up on during those initial few listens were the moments within songs where the anger easily rivals "Shitty Future" or "History's Stranglers." The Bronx are unafraid to throw those moments in the middle of such unabashed pop ditties.

So what's different then? Well you have songs like "Pleasure Seekers" which are rock and roll radio hit songs by the numbers (in the Bronx style) featuring pseudo anthemic sing-a-long choruses. The twist? Matt Caughthran paints a damn desolate picture with his often cynical and sarcastic lyrics, even on the sweet pop hits like "Young Bloods (machine)." And there are numerous such songs on this album... more than on previous outings. The GnR influence is way more apparent on this album, but the good news? No Axle Rose. The big difference here is that the more pop minded songs succeed where they fell flat on
2006 (think "Dirty Leaves.")

Overall we have 11 stripped down rock tunes. We have glimpses of brutality, moments of gentle beauty dipped in poison, ripping guitars, solid beats, and raucous sing-a-longs. We have plenty of tongue-in-cheek commentary about the media, about fame, music, and life in general. As with
2006 there is a definite anti-fame/star vibe (I get that, I lived in LA...) We get a guilty pleasure without the guilt. This album rocks.

Although I am unwilling to call
2008 better than 2006, after repeated listening, it does get my solid approval. This album should continue to please longtime fans, and continue to grow the base. Finally, this album is worth the listen just for Caughthran's performance, proving once again that he is one of the best vocalists in rock right now.

On a side note, if you get a chance, do see these bastards live. It will be a well spent 20 minutes.

Key Tracks:

Inveigh (2:47) -
is the closest thing to "History's Stranglers." It's not remotely the same song, but it's arguably the overall angriest on the album. Solid.

Pleasure Seekers (3:02) - Yup. I picked it. Man the chorus is just so fucking strong, and they make you wait for it. This fucking chorus will not leave my head.

Ship in High Transit (2:20) - Shortest song, most interesting musically, also I'm a big fan of the 90's San Diego scene... this song shows that influence the most on the album.

Low points:
Minutes in Night (2:43) - This isn't a bad song, exactly. I just found it the weakest on the album. To me it feels a bit like filler, with a chorus that doesn't really pop out. It could also be due to placement, to be honest, as if directly follows Ship High in Transit.

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