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THE BRONX open for Bad Religion at Kool Haus on Sunday (March 31). See listings. Rating: NNNN
When L.A. hardcore outfit the Bronx reinvented themselves as a mariachi band in 2009, releasing two surprisingly unironic albums under the Mariachi El Bronx moniker, it was hard to imagine they'd change course again. After all, they did the Mexican folk music thing so persuasively - and with so much fun - that there was no reason to believe they'd ever stop.
But they have returned to (non-mariachi) form and then some. On their fourth record, they churn out fast singalong punk bangers carried along by chunky power chords and singer Matt Caughthran's half-yelled vocals, which make every song sound like an anthem.
IV's first half is strongest, thanks to opener The Unholy Hand and Along For A Ride, which boasts the sort of highly melodic chorus that was their stock in trade as they grew from dingy club kids to punk powerhouse. The energy peters off toward the end with the embarrassingly earnest pseudo-ballad Life Less Ordinary ("I'm too beautiful for love," etc). It's a decidedly un-Bronxish effort, stripped down and sincere to the point of silliness.
Top track: Along For The Ride