New Music

The Distillers
Sing Death House

For destitute, bumming-change-in-front-of-the-McDonald's, passing-a-joint-in-the-graveyard, sneaking-into-the-club, chucking-bottles-at-the-wall punk rock, look no farther than the Distillers. This authentic, damaged, street-kid outfit boasts the magnificent, mouth-full-of-marbles accent of Brody, wife of Rancid's Tim Armstrong (who slurs his vocals in a similar fashion). Born in Australia, Brody had a rough childhood and was booted out of two all-girl Catholic schools before making her way to LA and forming the Distillers. Improving on their very fine, self-titled debut album, their latest, Sing Sing Death House, is battle-scarred and resolute, but Brody's tough voice is more expressive than your average punker's, and it's especially affecting when she flaunts the full range of her throaty snarl. On “Seneca Falls,” an appreciation of the women's suffrage movement set to chugging guitars and a thumpity-thump bass, there's an exceptional, goosebump-inducing (though unintelligible) chorus, which soars above the music thanks to the emotional quality of Brody's howl. With its Rancid-style bass line, “Young Girl” bounces around like a spiky-haired 15-year-old girl who's bold enough to fling herself into a jock-dominated slam pit. “The Young Crazed Peeling” is about having a crap upbringing, surviving and actually becoming a happily married punk. After telling the story of how her mom kicked her dad out of the house because he beat her up, Brody goes on to sing about how life has gotten better: “I love a man from California/He's the prettiest thing/We've got the same disorder/The way you feel is okay/It's never going to change anyway/It hit me/I got everything I need.” It's a saga with an uncharacteristic ending, a declaration that punks born of squalor can rise up and create music as impassioned and (relatively) positive as this.

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