Album Review: Downtown Struts, Victoria

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Remember the ‘90s? Swing was a thing that people tried bring back and fooled many of us into following. Thanks Swingers! Dave Matthews Band, Spin Doctors and Creed were popular bands. Punk rock was having a revival. Not just a minor revival, but the kind of revival where many thought it had staying power. Bands like Green Day, Pennywise, Bad Religion and Face to Face were on top of the mountain and a generation of kids reveled in anti-establishment rhetoric and angry three chord song structures.

After Green Day lost their edge, Pennywise lost their lead singer, Bad Religion again faded into obscurity and Face to Face broke up, we all gave up punk for dead. Now through the charred embers of punk rock’s long storied past comes the Downtown Struts. More from the punk family tree of Blink 182 than the Sex Pistols, The Ramones or Misfits, this isn’t your father’s, or even your older brother’s brand of punk rock.

Gone are the days where anger was the prevailing emotion. It’s more sanitized now, more streamlined, more corporate and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the survival of this brand of punk. If the goal of this new form of punk rock is to sell records and sell out shows then the Downtown Struts may be the symbol of hope for this generation of punkers. With catchy hooks and the requisite three chord structure their debut full length album, Victoria, is far better than their debut EP which put them on my radar, but not enough to be distinguishable.

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Hailing from Chicago there is a Gaslight Anthem element to this band with their edge and angst. Recorded with Matt Allison at Atlas Studios in Chicago this record could very well be the one that really puts them on the map. After a full U.S. tour in support of The Business this spring, the band continues on the road in 2012, including plans for a European Summer tour with appearances at both the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool (UK) and the Endless Summer Festival, in Germany.

This is a group that tours constantly and really works harder than most bands out there. It’s the reason we as fans, we as patrons and lovers of music go to see bands. While they may not be the kind of gutter punks we all grew up with, they are still part of the legacy of angst and rock and roll that continues to evolve as the art itself evolves year after year. The Downtown Struts have compiled a fantastic debut album and if they continue to work as hard as they do now, their legacy of excellence will follow them in perpetuity.

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