Mad Mexicans

The half-studio/half-live format of this vigorous EP serves as the perfect jumping-off point for a discussion concerning the dichotomy of the band's name. Are these guys mad as in angry? Or mad as in loco? Are they a Latin band simply because the six members are all Hispanic? After all, singer Robert Garza sings in English more often than Spanish and guitarist Johnny Lozano is certainly more influenced by Rage Against the Machine than Vicente Fernandez.

Thankfully, the Mad Mexicans are both angry and crazy; they are, at times, both a surging Latino rock ensemble and a petulant collection of street thugs who just happen to play music. The EP opens with "United," a fire-breathing chant that tackles immigration issues from both sides of the border. Intelligent and thunderous, "United" and the other two studio cuts ("Acceptance" and "Open Your Mind") reflect an intriguing mix of Tool and Molotov.

Yet the live cuts, however dynamic, are a bit too comfortable in a seventh-grade mindset. "Puros Chingasos" and "Mexicanized" may bring down the house in concert, but here they just get in the way of a band growing (and improving) in spite of themselves.

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