The Bronx – VI
Released: August 27th, 2021
Matt Caughthran | vocals
Joby J. Ford | guitars
Ken Horne | guitars
Brad Magers | bass
Joey Castillo | drums
“If something is good it doesn’t go out of style every six months. The fashion wheel of today doesn’t have to go as quickly as it was pushed in the 80’s.” – Helmut Lang, Australian artist and fashion designer.
Fashion is undoubtedly ever-evolving, so much so it in fact moves in cycles. “Flares” or bell-bottom jeans for example, begun their existence in early 19th century with American sailors who wore the pants for practical purposes, possibly to help snag a man who had fallen overboard. Furthermore, fast forward to the 1960s Sonny and Cher were photographed sporting the infamous bell-bottoms, the “hippie” revolution had them globalised and even films such as Saturday Night Fever in the 70s had John Travolta with pant ankles wider than a flagon. The pants then disappeared and were considered a near-joke as other styles understandably took over, namely thanks to the Punk Rock movement at the end of the 70s and the skin-tight trousers “boom”. Fascinatingly, bell-bottoms seem to re-emerge almost every decade and somewhat ironically, this is partially thanks to famed musicians, The Stone Roses for instance, were seen sporting these at the beginning of the 90s.
The highlighted facts from the aforementioned statement and paragraph are essentially the number “six”, “music” and “fashion” (more-so “design”). California’s punk rock maniacs The Bronx are about to unleash their sixth studio album upon the world (one guess at its title) – but where does the fashion or design element come in? For the band’s overall designs for their newest LP, the outfit collaborated with iconic artists such as Craig Stecyk and Tim Armstrong (Rancid) for numerous avenues, namely merchandise; Craig Stecyk being a luminary of surf and skate culture is a “peas and carrots” combination for The Bronx – their music does not only suit those sports, cultures, lifestyles and fashion sense, it literally lives it.
The burning questions are though: Has this translated with VI? Are The Bronx still “in style” after nearly two decades? Extinguish those burning questions with a tidal wave as these 11 tracks from the ferocious five-piece simply clarify that they are “in style” and that their music will not struggle with translating to any notion of “what’s hot” – the record irrefutably achieves this. In fact, VI renders these questions to be irrelevant.
One of the most enthralling accomplishments that The Bronx are able to deliver on every release is their ability to utilise punk or even classic rock sounds and formulas, modernise them, brand it as their own and cause the listener to appreciate the inspiration it came from. Opening track ‘White Shadow’ seems to have an orientation not that far derived from The Kinks, expectedly it is musically and audibly advanced, especially in intensity. However, the bouncy, catchy and energised blueprint and even delivery has that DNA encoded in it, rather delightfully. ‘Suplerbloom’ is The Bronx thanking Pennywise in song screaming ‘It’s What You Do With It’ metaphorically and with a pun intended. ‘Watering The Well’ is where the recipe becomes quite interesting, a combination of AC/DC, The Frights and a guest vocal spot from Joey Ramone – baffling? Unquestionably. Brilliant? BRAZENLY!
‘Curb Feelers’ has the vivacity of The Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ with significantly less “glam” and infinitely more “slam”. ‘Peace Pipe’ has some odd inclusions citing the surf rock of Mt Eddy with some good old Aussie swagger nearing The Saints, but assuredly it is still The Bronx. ‘High Five’ almost has a Rancid feel to it in terms of the vocal back and forth (think ‘Ruby Soho’) but with Johnny Thunders as conductor of the composition – noticing the history and lack of “going out of style” yet?
‘Mexican Summer’ is the grandest experiment The Bronx have undertaken – this scribe can already hear the readers scoffing and ready to type their expert opinions involving the lack of knowledge of the band’s other project Mariachi El Bronx. (Insert sarcastic slow clap) That’s why this track is their most imposing endeavour – they have successfully fused instrumentation and song structures from their Mariachi project into The Bronx; MaRockiachi perhaps? It is a myth becoming a reality and ingenuously astonishing.
‘New Lows’ and ‘Breaking News’ fit alongside Bad Religion and A Wilhelm Scream too perfectly (what a tour that would be) and need to be on the next Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game. In a sense, ‘Jack Of All Trades’ is a number that Dave Grohl would most likely wish he wrote or co-wrote for the Sonic Highways album, it isn’t completely out of the realms of Foo Fighters but they couldn’t discover it by themselves. This notion somewhat carries onto the full-length’s closer ‘Participation Trophy’, but replace Dave Grohl with Josh Homme and the song that Queens Of The Stone Age never wrote which also required Frank Agnew (Adolescents) to oversee the entire creative process.
In closing, let’s reflect on that opening quote and “if something is good, it doesn’t go out of style every six months”. The Bronx aren’t just “good”, the quintet is beyond that, they are “rare” and surpass “going out of style” by living THEIR style. Which fashion item are they? As established they are not a style, more-so a necessity, so let’s say “jeans” or “sunglasses”. Finally, six months? Try six albums with ‘Oceans Of Class’.
The Bronx – VI tracklisting:
1. White Shadow
3. Watering The Well
4. Curb Feelers
5. Peace Pipe
6. High 5
7. Mexican Summer
8. New Lows
9. Breaking News
10. Jack Of All Trades
11. Participation Trophy