I made a typo. I put Downton Boys into Google rather than Downtown. It came up with an article by Woman Magazine about the “dashing hunks of Downton Abbey”. It’s quite the read, but I could have done without seeing Hugh Bonneville with his shirt off.
I suspect Victoria Ruiz isn’t a fan either. “She’s BROWN!, She’s…SMART!” as declared on roaring single ‘Monstro’, and she’s a fireball of righteous, sloganeering rage, engulfed with the burning injustices of every liberal cause going. A Mexican-American from Rhode Island who looks innocent and innocuous enough at first glance, she pretty quickly ignites into this screaming, ranting force of nature backed by a storm of sprawling saxophones and slashing punk venom. ‘Bilingual – political – dance – sax – punk – party’ is the profile description, but it hardly does them justice. Of all the new wave of angry Riot Grrrl descendants, Downtown Boys are the most furious, hyperactive and gloriously good fun. Not really Downton Abbey’s demographic though.
Guitarist Joey DeFrancesco is Ruiz’s chief partner-in-agitation. Both are socially conscious activists who were born out of the anger you see bubbling away in the Occupy movement, the immigration protests and the racial/police tensions in Ferguson, and have taken on the mantel of the great radical punk rock tradition handed down from Crass, The Slits and Fugazi. T
he big difference on debut album Full Communism is the bouncy, party atmosphere the saxophones give it all. They lift the sweaty, DIY garage thrashabout into a furious fiesta of empowered, upbeat energy. Sure they’re intent on burning down the local Starbucks and destroying global capitalism, but they do it whilst forming a conga line and yelping out a drunken, ramshackle version of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’.
Few targets are spared. The greed of the banking system gets it on it ‘Traders’ – “I’ll trade you”, ‘100% Inheritance Tax’ takes on hereditary privilege and the wealth divide and ‘Future Police’ has a pretty damning assessment of law enforcement. The clarion call to change the world continues on ‘Wave of History’ whilst a cry for civil disobedience appears on ‘Break a Few Eggs’. And the rage even spreads to the lanky bloke who always ends up standing directly in front of you at gigs – “Fuck you Tall Boys”. At least I think that’s what it’s about; as a vertically-challenged man, I feel your pain sista.
It’s a big old blowout of crotch kicking, political rage that marks Downtown Boys out as a mighty, boisterous force of Latino punk ballast. Woe betide anyone who gets in their way – especially you, Tall Boys. You know who you are.
Full Communism is out now on Don Giovanni Records, order it here.