Release Date: May 5, 2015
Record label: Don Giovanni
Life in 2015 is in many ways a study in contradictions. We're told that we're living in a post-racial society in which all are treated as equals and the problems of the past are just that -- in the past. Yet a simple flick of the TV remote or a few minutes spent reading the latest headlines or browsing social media tells a very different story, one about a society where little has changed, progress is blocked at every turn and old wounds not only remain open, but have salt poured in them on a daily basis.
Phil Ochs once said, "If there's any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara. " Downtown Boys are a band who don't look or sound anything like Elvis (or Phil Ochs, for that matter), but their first full album, 2015's Full Communism, suggests on some level they get the essence of Ochs' idea -- if rock is going to promote dramatic political and social change, it's going to have to be exciting and engaging, not to mention broadly inclusive. And while Downtown Boys are a furiously ranting, racially and sexually integrated punk rock band who don't shy away from the specifics of the issues that matter to them as they shout down racism, homophobia, misogyny, economic injustice, prisons for profit, and the crippling weight of hegemony, they are that rare band that find a palpable, inspiring joy in their fury.
Downtown Boys have never been shy about making the political personal. Each member of the sextet has a background in social organizing, and they bring this knowledge to their raucous and commanding live shows. In 2012, the Providence-based band released an unhinged eponymous album featuring a range of rough tracks, covers, and live songs. The record’s follow-up arrived in 2014 in the form of a self-titled seven-inch.
If you want to know why Downtown Boys sound so angry on their debut album Full Communism, watch the music video for "Wave of History". In the clip, the Providence-based band outlines the realities of prison overcrowding, the racial divide in U.S. arrest rates, and the number of people killed by police—very real problems that, for many, are remarkably easy to ignore.
This six-piece Rhode Island punk act gets its unabashedly Marxist-feminist message across in ways that are both fun and furious. The group's first full-length album flies by in a boisterous, intoxicating rush, 24 minutes of saxophone-laced noise and radical slogans. On the hilarious "Tall Boys," lead singer Victoria Ruiz threatens to castrate a pretentious concertgoer; on the bold, fizzy highlight "Monstro," she repeatedly yells, "She's brown! She's smart!" in both Spanish and English.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Downtown Boys’ activist punk and J Fernandez’ lush psychedelia.