The Bronx

The Bronx III

The intelligence of punk? Well, of these punks, anyway, who somehow manage to plough a curiously exotic strain here despite fearlessly thrashing away deep into the heart of each and every song.

Now three albums deep, this LA quintet have powered their way out of the cultish following they gained via extensive gigging in the city during 2002. Indeed, the swagger here suggests that ancient albums from Stoke on Trent may languish proudly within their collections, for an adopted Britishness lies at their core sound.

The quality here lies in the unlikely balance of a band dynamic that blends splintered guitars – Joby Ford and Ken Horne respectively – firing recklessly across the solid bass groove of Brad Majors and Jorma Vik’s trigger happy drumming. The combination is only slightly off kilter… enough, though, to find that unique air. Above all this, of course, Matt Caughthron’s wry vocals that – finally – prove that irony can be mined from the City of Angels, rare though that is.

So this is real life? Darkness inhabits most of the lyrical corners here, with Caughthron fusing the futility of an urban everyday existence with savage thrusts borrowed from the crime section in the local papers. Sure enough, whether en route to drugstore or beach, whether in the bosom of the family or out on some kind of rampage, the spectre of violence never seems far away: it strikes hard and fast, signified by those twin jagged guitars. Make no mistake, the vista surveyed by The Bronx owes little to teenage romanticism.

It is interesting also, to see the production talents of David Shiffman, who injected exotica into The Mars Volta and Lamb of God, duly employed here. The results bring a gritty clarity to the proceedings. Given a reasonable sound system, this music splinters into a dozen jagged edges. Not that such hi fidelity is at all necessary. Crank it up on a basic in car system – my Astra suffices perfectly – and you will be suitably drawn to the heart of The Bronx ferocious muse. Even there, amid fervour and thrash, a beautiful bellow of drum sound can be heard. This is speed thrust for discerning punks of, I truly hope, all ages.

It is no surprise to discover The Bronx performing as Blag Flag in the much touted The Germs; What we do is Secret cinematic tragedy. What is odd, however, is the ease in which The Bronx, on this magnificent album, manage to transcend anything that particular film (and the rather pathetic scene that spawned it) ever stood for. Herein lies a vision of LA that is beyond such cartoon appraisal. It is the real deal and, frankly, signifies the coming of age of the greatest American punk band since… since The Ramones. Beat on that, brat!

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today