50thirdand3rd Staff Picks – Album of the Year: Downtown Boys – ‘Cost of Living’

Downtown Boys Cost of Living is my 50thirdand3rd Album of the Year for 2017

I gotta say, 2017 has been quite the year for killer LPs and while there’s another album I think is the cat’s meow (wink, wink!), Cost of Living is a more poignant choice in the wake of the Mango Mussollini‘s regime, not that hostility toward Latin people, especially Mexicanos, is anything new, but I digress.

Cost of Living is Downtown Boys’ third album and a debut effort for their new label, SubPop Records. Victoria Ruiz and Joey La Neve DeFrancesco formed the Downtown Boys in 2011, after they met while working at the Providence Renaissance Hotel the year before. Victoria and Joey’s shared passion for noise punk along with their fervent commitment to social justice and grassroots activism are central to every Downtown Boys’ cut.

Cost of Living is such an exciting album! Producer (and Fugazi guitarist) Guy Picciotto fully harnesses the power of their sound without sacrificing the band’s energy or the spirit of their message. These songs are as much unflinching indictments of this country’s current policies (A Wall, It Can’t Wait, Because You) as they are joyous calls to action. There’s so much love at the core of this album and while love is always at the heart of everything from Downtown Boys, this album is so much more focused and nuanced.

Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas) is the shining embodiment of Downtown Boys’ message(and on a side note, Courtney DelMar‘s RoTD, recently). It’s a fiery and empowering battle cry that reminds us all of how beautiful and brilliant we are and while the tune is in Spanglish, it’s as inclusive as it is revolutionary(and doesn’t make me ball like a baby like Alice Bag’s Programmed)! Downtown Boys are activists who wanna inspire you to stand up for what’s right by celebrating who we are and supporting each other’s right to work and live in this country as equals.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1057746175 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small track=3490587893]

Tonta also gets a special mention here and only partly because my grandma had a way of making that word sound like the sharpest insult and ultimate zinger with just the slightest vocal inflection. This song flips the script on respectability politics and gives us a woke affirmation, instead. Fun fact, Tonta was written by Downtown Boys’ new bass player Mary Regalado.

Ruido o criminal
Olvide, olvido, olvida
Ruido o criminal
Yo que sé, yo escoge, olvide
Ruido o criminal
Olvide, olvido, olvida
Ruido o criminal
Yo que se escoge olvide
Ruido o criminal
Ayer, ahora, mañana, ayer
Ruido o criminal
Ayer, ahora, mañana, ahora

Yo no quero ser, tonta y sed
Es el tiempo que? Que yo no tengo fe?

Tú te vas más que das
Me voy a ser más que doy
Tú te vas más que das
Ayer y hoy y mañana y ayer
Hoy y mañana y ayer y mañana

English Translation (Alright, Google Translation! Don’t nobody gaslight me on spotty Español, either, unless you want a history lesson!)

Noise or criminal
Forget, forget, forget
Noise or criminal
I know, I choose, forget
Noise or criminal
Forget, forget, forget
Noise or criminal
I who chooses to forget
Noise or criminal
Yesterday, now, tomorrow, yesterday
Noise or criminal
Yesterday, now, tomorrow, now

I do not want to be, Dumb and thirsty
Is the time it? That I do not have faith?

You leave more than you give
I'm going to be more than I give
You leave more than you give
Yesterday and today and tomorrow and yesterday
Today and tomorrow and yesterday and tomorrow

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Real activism doesn’t shame us into rigid dogmas, it arms us with knowledge and inspires us with love to take action! Downtown Boys are young and still learning how to negotiate their rising profile with their political idealism (Calling out Coachella’s Anti-LGBTQ political ties following their performance at the event) but it’s not about elitist posturing with this band, their activism’s the real deal! Go check out Spark Mag, their zine for Demand Progress “to highlight and financially support artists and musicians who are promoting progressive and radical ideals through their work.” Not to mention their successful campaign (with fellow artists Priests, Sheer Mag, Immortal Technique, to name a few) against SXSW’s deportation clause in its artist agreement.

Check out the Cost of Living full album and here’s a cool little track by track guide from Beat magazine and Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, himself. And please come back to Portland!

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Above Photo: Farrah Sheiky


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Ms. Moneynine

Musician, Music lover, Maniac! I’m also a freelance writer and contributor at Please Kill Me. And I’m presently calling the PDX my home. You can also follow me on Bandcamp.

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