Downtown Boys

The fiery political-punk of Providence, RI band Downtown Boys is strong enough to dismantle the angry white boys club that too often dominates the punk scene. It is rare to find a band that creates excitement based on not just their sound, but their energy and passionate relationship to the topics they are playing music about. Their 2014 album Full Communism is a multifaceted, bilingual powerhouse confronting racism, gender issues, consumerism, politics, and identity. The music video for “Wave of History” touches on topics such as corporations profiting from the slave trade, incarceration statistics, and much like the rest of the album, delivers a need for representation of the voices that have been oppressed in history.

The track “Monstro” is filled with pounding drums, powerful saxophone, guitar that screams joy and revolution, and singer Victoria Ruiz screaming loudly, “SHE’S BROWN, SHE’S SMART!” There are certain bands that can evoke the power of wanting to dance and riot and cry singularly based on emotion all at once–it’s a lot to take in–and Downtown Boys evokes that with the greatest and strongest energy.

 Bi bilingual political dance sax punk party from Providence.

Priests

Residing in the nation’s capital are my favorite political punk rebel rousers, Priests. I was given the chance to interview them for The Pulp Zine last summer, before the release of their addicting 7-song LP, “Bodies and Control and Money and Power”. Since, I have seen Priests three times, being so lucky as to live one state below them. Here’s the thing: if you have never been to a Priests live show, you are missing out. These are my favorite things that have happened at Priests shows:

1. Singer Katie Greer calling out the exploitive behavior associated with an all-white-male pop band choosing to name their band, “Black Girls.” In between songs during Priests’ set, Greer commented on the blatant racism involved in their name, as well as the absence of any so-called “funny or ironic” intentions. Some dude bro in the back of the audience yelled, “What about the name Priests?” to which Greer responded, “What about Priests?” And the band immediately launched into the song, “Doctor”. Badass as ever.

2. GL tuning his guitar by playing the intro to the Cramps’ “Human Fly”.

3. Every live performance of “And Breeding“. There’s something really magnetic about Katie screaming, “Elvis Presley, Madonna, Che Guevara…” while Taylor menacingly stares at the crowd, GL lunges forward while playing guitar, and Daniele totally dominates on drums. The lyrics “Barrack Obama killed something in me, and I’m gonna get him for it” seem to always pack a huge punch.

4. Katie’s cheetah print spandex pants.

Keep track of their tour schedule on the band’s one and only social networking site.

Mitski

I feel like I’ve read one-too-many articles that have reviewed Mitski’s third album Bury Me at Makeout Creek as a “sleeper hit,” continually not giving her the recognition she deserves. Personally, I feel like there’s nothing sleepy about the album. Mitski’s lyrics are unmistakably relatable, her soft voice has the capability of revealing a shrieking anger, and her album deals with themes of being broke, jobless, emotionally vulnerable, and the desire to take care of herself and to love. Her lyrics travel from poetically romantic (“You’re the breeze in my Austin night”) to totally morbid and awesome (“I want a love that falls as fast as a body from a balcony”). If there is such thing as a comforting powerhouse, it is Mitski.

Reilly interviewed Mitski earlier this year for The Pulp Zine, where Mitski referenced a previous quote from an interview she did with Mob Material:

Being a woc in a predominantly white male genre means always fighting on every front.

It means being in a studio with 5 other men who you have hired and who you are in charge of, yet who will not only talk over you but publicly question your every decision and, if they are friends with each other and feeling extra male and strong, ignore you, joke around with each other, and drink and smoke and act completely unprofessionally on your time when you’ve asked them to get to work already, all because they can’t handle being a woc’s subordinate.

It means doing all the work for your project, but still having your credit and sometimes your payment handed over to whoever was male and in your 1 mile radius during the creation process. It means writing and producing your own material yet getting emails from people asking for the contact information of “your producer guy” because they’d like to work with him too.
It means showing up at your own show and being stopped at the door, being told “bands only” and realizing the doorman thought you were someone’s girlfriend. It means the soundguy treating you like you don’t know anything when you’re trying to sound check, and people after your show going straight past you to your male bandmembers to congratulate them for a great show, and some random person in the crowd who saw you put away your instrument telling you to “be careful with that” when they just saw you playing it.

It means working hard for years on your craft and becoming your own businesswoman, and still at the end of it being reduced to whether or not you are young or pretty or pale enough. It’s about your career having an expiration date, regardless of what you still have to offer, because women artists quietly disappear after a certain age. And most frustrating of all, after all this struggle, it means not having your music listened to simply because the way you looked in your picture made people assume your music was of a certain genre that they don’t listen to.

Mitski is such a talented musician, and her Facebook posts will only make you love her more.

Chastity Belt

These four Seattle babes sing about sex, drugs, and rock n roll with a fun, feminist perspective. They make sex, drugs, and rock n roll feel like it hasn’t been sung about by retired and misogynistic classic rock idols. In both 2013’s No Regerts and their newest release, Time to Go Home, the band covers topics such as getting fucked up, having fun, and being cool sluts. In the opening track called “Drone,” singer Julie Shapiro sings, “he was just another man trying to tell me something” aka the definition of mansplaining. The song “Cool Slut” proclaims, “to all the girls in the world, trying to take off their shirts…ladies, its okay to be slutty”. Chastity Belt embraces a culture of feminine power and the classic line, “girls just wanna have fun” that is often criticized as being careless, weak, slutty and negative. I love Chastity Belt because they’re here to remind us that it is okay to go out and have fun and do what you want, simple as that. NO REGERTS.

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May 24, 2015

Comments

This is a great write up! I especially enjoyed the section on Priests. What a great live band!

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