The only time in this review I am going to compare this band to The Beatles is right now, and that’s simply because both bands came out of Liverpool. I was actually kind of surprised to find that Liverpool breed a full on mariachi band. This band is serious about their sound and you can hear that even in just these two songs I will talk about in this review. I easily became a fan after listening to their new single “Company.”
I’d like to think that their name, Roja, was inspired by their mariachi sound, something you’d find in Spaghetti Westerns (Roja, being the feminine for Red in Spanish, spaghetti often being topped with a red sauce/marinara- you get my drift?). The band’s music made me reminiscent of the music of The Refreshments, which sometimes had a bit of a mariachi sound. You’ll listen and feel as though you could hear this in the background of a Quentin Tarantino film.
Watch the Video for "Company"
There is absolutely no doubt that "Company" is a mariachi song. It is everything that mariachi is and should be. The lyrics are beautifully eerie and are turned into a story with the full accompanying mariachi band. “Triumphant brass, sweeping strings and flamenco acoustic guitars form the richly evocative tapestry” which is the song, and the music created by this band.
Speaking of, this band consists of Simon Bradshaw on guitar and vocals, Chris Doherty on brass, Rachel Brewster on strings, Aron McGhee on drums, Claire Swift on keys and cello, and Edwin Pink on bass. They were “formed from the members of long-lost alt-rockers Marlowe, the distinctive vocal and dry lyricism of frontman Simon Bradshaw is set against an altogether more grandiose backdrop.”
As a writer with a huge interest in music (I am learning to play the ukulele), I found it intriguing that Bradshaw is also a writer. One of his pieces was on some of the most influential mariachi singers of all time. They say to write what you know, and I feel like he knows a good deal about Mariachi just by listening to two of his songs. You can read the article in The Sabotage Times.
Back to the music...
Listen to Their Cover of "Bad Romance"
The b-side to this single, “Company,” is a mariachi cover of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." It starts out kind of slow and you'll question in the beginning how this got categorized as mariachi, but soon the brass kicks in and you’ll fall in love (I did anyway). I am a big Lady Gaga fan, and “Bad Romance” is actually my second favorite Gaga song. I think I like this version even more than the original! It has a darker feel to it, possibly because it is slowed down, maybe because of the mariachi feel, or it could be that Bradshaw’s vocals make you think dark thoughts.
The band performed this cover on a BBC talent show. They were finalists on the BBC TV show, “UK’s Best Part-Time Band.” On the show, they “were mentored by New Order/Joy Division legend Peter Hook.” They also got plenty of radio support from BBC, which isn’t surprising if you take the time to listen to these couple of songs. They have more new music on the way. They are considered Liverpool's “Masters of Mariachi.” And I seriously think you should give them a listen.
Even if mariachi music isn’t your normal thing, you should at least give “Company” a listen. If you are a Gaga fan, listen to the cover. Punks, fans of rock music, and even people that prefer oldies will all find something to enjoy in this style of music. Listen to the talent and don’t judge by genre. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.