Somewhere between the Springsteen-channeling saxophone solos and frontwoman Victoria Ruiz’s rapid-fire bilingual, political lyrics, you almost lose track of the ever-escalating punk fury building behind her — that’d be the Downtown Boys. It’s not that Ruiz isn’t one of the boys on every musical level, but on “Monstro” when she’s screaming “SHE’S BROWN! SHE’S SMART!” at the top of her lungs it’s easy to forget there’s anyone else in the room, let alone a man. Ruiz gives an overpowering, intoxicating, charismatic performance that carries over even on the recorded version of the track, so seeing them live must be a journey in itself. Think of the sax in this song as the other side of the coin to the ingratiating hook of “Thrift Shop,” redeeming the instrument from that smarmy affiliation in a holy fire of protest against everything corrupt. Downtown Boys pull no punches, name-checking the prison-industrial complex, racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, and that old, awful specter, boredom. People say they’re worried about the next generation; I listen to Downtown Boys and I’ve never been more confident in the future. Listen below.
Full Communism is out 5/4 via Don Giovanni.