Downtown Boys Played to the Room

The context for Downtown Boys reasserts itself weekly if not daily. The band formed in 2014, two years before Donald Trump was elected president, but the Trump Administration gives the political punk band a reason to exist almost every time he or his Cabinet members open their mouths. Team Trump didn’t invent racism, sexism, transphobia, colonialism and toxic masculinity, but it uses these tools to assert the preeminent position of wealthy straight white men in the culture daily. 

The Mekons: Still Punk Rock After All These Years

When opportunity knocked, The Mekons pretended they weren’t home. Actually, that’s not true. They just didn’t stop what they were doing to answer the door. The British punk band were art school mates with the Gang of Four and recorded their answer to The Clash’s “White Riot”—“Never Been in a Riot”—in 1978. At the time, primitive skills were badges of honor in the fight against the tyranny of technique as embodied by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Eric Clapton, and any musician who intentionally played in 11/4 time.

Tusk in a Box

The red-blooded American in me loves a box set. Who doesn’t want lots of stuff, particularly if it’s attractively packaged? But the specifics of a box set are the rub. If you’re a fan of the artist, you likely already have much of the material on the box. If you’re not, buying one is a pricey way into an artist. They also rarely hold up from end to end. There’s frequently a disc that presents the artist in process, or one that honors the later material that only diehard fans care about.

OFF!'s Keith Morris is a Human Being

Keith Morris is no stranger to an aggressive soundscape. “I live under flight paths of emergency helicopters,” he says from his home in Los Feliz near the corner of Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, “one of busiest intersections in Los Angeles.” He has a movie theater between him and the traffic, but there’s a fire station around the corner. “There’s always something going on, but the energy is not a positive energy.” 

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