Category: Mariachi El Bronx

A Bob Dylan tribute album with 76 tracks and a 2012 mind-set

STORY: Bob Dylan tribute album honors Amnesty International too

The new  Bob Dylan tribute album, “Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International,” which is being released today, salutes both the songwriter and the human rights organization for half a century of their respective work.

But the album itself has been assembled and is being marketed with a very 2012 mind-set.

Veteran record industry executive Jeff Ayeroff, who is leading the charge for the benefit project, with proceeds going to Amnesty International, fully expects that few potential customers will be equally passionate about all 76 tracks by more than 80 artists appearing on the four-CD set.

Artists that participated constitute a diverse aasemblage spanning the pop music spectrum, and a bit beyond it, from young pop hit makers Adele, Miley Cyrus and Kesha to indie rockers the Silversun Pickups and the Belle Brigade to veteran folkies Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, alt-country musicians Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Brett Dennen and the Avett Brothers, mainstream rockers Dave Matthews, Joe Perry and Maroon 5, hard-edged  rock band Queens of the Stone Age, world music acts Ziggy Marley, Mariachi El Bronx and Somalian rapper K’naan and punk bands Bad Religion and Rise Against.
"Whatever I’ve learned in the evolution of the album, I know people who pay $20 for this are not going to like every song,” Ayeroff said. “But there are several records inside this album: There’s a country record, there’s an all female record of women interpreting Bob Dylan songs, which is probably the most significant part of the album for me. It shows that Bob speaks with many voices for many people.

“There’s an adult pop record, there’s a peer record, there’s an alternative rock album, and the rock record,” continued Ayeroff, adding that in the iTunes age he anticipates some people who buy the download version will pick and choose which parts of it they pull down.

In addition to the official four-CD version that’s going to all the usual online and physical music retailers, Starbucks has created a two-CD version.

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Pop music review: Mariachi El Bronx at the Natural History Museum

The Bronx's acoustic alter ego fuses its punky themes of struggle and misanthropy with traditional Mexican mariachi music. The result is startlingly natural.

The members of Mariachi El Bronx first joined forces in the Bronx -- not the northernmost borough of New York City but one of L.A.'s crankiest punk bands. So it came as no surprise Friday night to find that, like so many punk gigs, Mariachi El Bronx's concert at the L.A. County Natural History Museum took the form of a provocation. Here before the elaborate dioramas of the North American Mammal Hall was a group of admitted cultural tourists daring its audience to view it as more than a curious museum piece. Ask the longhaired slam dancer in the Budweiser cap and he'd probably agree: The band pulled it off.

Despite the complicated overtones, Mariachi El Bronx's creative project is as straightforward as its name. This eight-man outfit -- clad in matching charro suits and wielding acoustic instruments such as the vihuela and the guitarrón -- transfers themes of struggle and misanthropy from the Bronx's febrile hard rock to the traditional sounds of Mexican mariachi music. The result feels startlingly natural; on the pair of self-titled albums it's released since 2009, Mariachi El Bronx inhabits its adopted setting as though it were the unavoidable fate of any Southern California band.

Friday's show opened the season of the Natural History Museum's First Fridays series, in which musical performances are presented alongside guided tours and science-related talks. (Before Mariachi El Bronx played, Michael Shermer of the Skeptics Society discussed the human brain's belief-making machinery.) Yet the concert also served as something of a bookend to an especially busy period for Mariachi El Bronx. Last year, the band toured arenas with Foo Fighters and appeared on "Conan" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"; 2011 might well be remembered as the point when the Bronx, which continues to perform, was outpaced by its own alter ego.

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Mariachi El Bronx, Dengue Fever make KCRW Halloween party a scream


Halloween, a holiday inspired by the grateful dead, can make those of us who are gratefully alive reflect on, and revel in, the pleasures of the temporal realm we inhabit.

In Los Angeles, one of those fleeting seasonal gifts is KCRW-FM (89.9)'s annual Masquerade dance party. On Saturday, the costumed bacchanal took over the Legendary Park Plaza hotel -- built in 1925 and overlooking MacArthur Park -- with a musical lineup that included Moby, Mariachi El Bronx, Dengue Fever, Milagres and the Santa Monica-based radio station's own gifted mash-up artists (Jason Bentley, Liza Richardson, Chris Douridas, et al).

Roaming the Art Deco hotel, patrons dressed as zombies, airline stewardesses, Black Swans, Travis Bickle and Cap'n Crunch (among many, many other guises), swigged drinks and sampled tunes across a wide sound spectrum, spaced across various lounges and ballrooms on two floors.

One of the evening's early revelations was Milagres, a Brooklyn-based band that, after changing its name and reshuffling personnel, deserves to find a wide audience for its ethereal, haunting compositions such as "Halfway." Kyle Wilson, the group's lead singer and principal tunesmith, hits high notes with the breathy eroticism of a young Prince, while his bandmates assemble a sophisticated sonic skeleton that evokes Radiohead and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

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