[CD Review] The Bronx, 'The Brox III' (White Drugs Records)

The Bronx are from Los Angeles, but their sound is somewhere between the vehement grit of East Coast hardcore and Sunset Strip glam. Adding to the geographic confusion, the band are recording a mariachi project under the name El Bronx (reports after a recent show at Alex’s Bar yielded many an amused “what the fuck?”).

That alter ego and a sophomore major-label album that staggered into equally questionable power ballads might as well have never happened when you throw on their third self-titled release. And thank the huge-rhythm-guitar gods! The Bronx (III) is a record that brings us back to their blistering debut, which garnered all kinds of Minor Threat-being-welcomed-to-the-jungle comparisons, but with added Guitar Hero-ready hooks and the kind of subliminal ear candy that seeps out when you crank it (guitarists Joby Ford and Ken Horne are a duo who make your hand start turning that dial toward 11). Ratcheting up the loud-quiet-loud style to a loud-louder-loud brand, the duo bring a Rage Against the Machine staccato to the opener, “Knifeman,” but then blow out the chorus into arena-rock hugeness without sounding wanky. Singer Matt Caughthran wraps that mic chord all the way down his forearm and dives right into the pit while screaming proclamations about freedom, control and all the neuroses a struggling band that just left a major label might be expected to simmer in (“All we ever want is someone to ignore us/Because all we’ve ever had is people who control us”). It’s a formula, but a smart one—play the familiar heavy rock, and play it so well that people feel like they’re kids again, listening to Shout at the Devil for the very first time.

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