The Bronx/Mariachi El Bronx - Record Store Day Split (Cover Artwork)

The Bronx / Mariachi El Bronx

Record Store Day Split (2012)

White Drugs / ATO

Live records are usually hit or miss. They never seem to lie in the middle and at times leave the listener feeling as if the artist was simply filling a void on a recording contract. Split records are another anomaly in the essence that one band tends to outshine the other leaving the listener questioning if their purchase was ever a good idea in the first place. For record store day 2012, The Bronx boldly tackled both areas. A release in the form of a split 12 inch with their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx surfaced in which both sides are made up of live recordings from various shows. I get it- this release wasn't meant to be ground breaking, and to be honest I wasn't expecting much. It was a record store day exclusive meant more for collectors interested in cool multi colored vinyl (guilty). Despite the taboo that a live spilt carries, both sides manage to hold their own.

The Bronx side is made up of three original songs and one Hanoi Rocks cover, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". What makes the cover interesting is that they managed to tap Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe to perform with them. Even though the actual singer of the band they're covering performs the song, it seems out of place amidst the attack of the others.

The Mariachi El Bronx side is solid containing four songs mostly from Mariachi El Bronx II ("Slave Labor" can be found on Mariachi El Bronx I). It lacks the intensity of The Bronx side but that's to be expected; I mean they are a Mariachi band after all. The tracks are performed well but I find myself putting this side on more as background music instead of focusing on each song.

What I feel this release accomplishes, at least for The Bronx, is its ability to capture part of the aggressiveness of a live show. You can feel the power at the beginning when the band comes together on "Heart Attack American". To be clear this release isn't a substitute for a live show since The Bronx is a band that you need to see in order to get the full experience. You can get a good idea of what you're in store for though. Being that this is a live recording, everything is raw to which I appreciate that there were no overdubs or pitch correction (at least to my ears). At the end of the day both groups bring nothing new and this release shouldn't be used as a gateway to either band. I'd only recommend checking it out if you're already familiar with The Bronx or Mariachi El Bronx's catalog. If you're looking to get into either band, what better place to start than the beginning. Go pick up The Bronx I and/or Mariachi El Bronx I and work your way down.