A wall is just a wall
A wall is a wall
And nothing more at all
This is the chorus to the opening track off of the Downtown Boys’ third LP, Cost of Living. The guitars rage behind lead singer Victoria Ruiz’s bellicose presence. The fury in Ruiz’s voice is matched only by the political aggressiveness of the lyrics. Released only weeks ahead of what are, perhaps Trump’s most controversial (READ: awful), moments yet Cost of Living offers the release of tension we all deserve.
Punk started as a voice for the disgruntled, the discord of youth who rebelled against culture, raising questions about what it meant to exist in the world. They used simple chords, coupled by a furious fashion meant to stave off and offend all figures of authority. But punk’s rebellion was never all that inclusive, the bands that rose to fame and the voices most widely expressed were almost unilaterally white and male. So much so that Nazi punks became commonplace within the scene, invading shows and the so-called counter-culture at-large (speaking of which, who would have thought that Green Room would become the most relevant movie of this year? Watch here as the band in the film plays “Nazi Punks F*ck Off” to a bunch of Nazi punks. This all before the film turns into a tense and violent battle between the two, calling to mind current events.) This is why diversity is necessary in all areas, it will hold us to a true accountability.
Downtown Boys offer a antidote to the almost inherent awfulness that can arise when privileged white men gather together, offering a different perspective, one that truly undermines current American systems of power. The band’s bio says they’re “here to topple the white-cis-het hegemony and draft a new history” and they do so from a staunchly feminist and Hispanic voice. Ruiz, a tough and talented Latina woman, represents the Trump administration and alt-right’s nightmare, she screams truth to power in a euphoric listening experience. The album offers several songs purely in Spanish, showcasing an unapologetic vision of a bilingual America; if the systems don’t included you, sometimes you must speak loud enough to be heard. When your President has just pardoned someone that amounts to a convicted racist, you need an album you can blare in the faces of racists everywhere, Cost of Living is exactly that.
Also check out Rata Negra, another female fronted Spanish-language punk group and Priests, a female fronted post-punk group, both of which offer the diverse anti- sounds you need to fuel your fire as white supremacist groups try to gain ground in this country.