The Distillers are probably one of the most underrated contributors of Punk in music history. Hailing originally from Melbourne, Australia – Frontwoman Brody Dalle formed the band in Los Angeles, California in 1998. The band went on to infiltrate the music scene of the early 2000s.
The Punk scene at the time was largely of the emo and pop punk influence; Good Charlotte, Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, Blink 182. Thank Goddess for this band for bringing gritty, real punk to this era. Dalle has one of the most powerful husky, growling voices in the game and matched with guitar playing and lyric writing, she’s an all-round iconic artist. Dalle is an inspiration for drug rehabilitation, motherhood, career longevity and musicianship.
The band’s original line up consisted of Rose Mazzola on lead guitar, Kim Chi on bass, Mat Young on drums and Brody on vocals.
The members changed over the years to the current line up: with Andry Granelli on drums, Ryan Sinn on bass and Tony Becilacqua on lead guitar.
The band’s debut album features a cover of the Patti Smith rock bop, ‘Ask the Angels‘ which sounds almost at home with the band unapologetic approach to bringing the noise.
The album is made of up fourteen short, punchy songs that serve as a loud introduction to the band. The songs range lyrically from ideas on gender, survival and history with the ode to the fall of the Berlin wall in ‘The Blackest Years‘. Dalle channels Kathleen Hannah’s screaming retort in the versus of ‘Girlfixer‘ in which the attacking vocals deliver a short poetic anthem with sloping backing vocals.
Sing Sing Death House
Opening with ‘Sick of it All’, the album starts off incredibly strong with that classic punk feel coming from the cascading bass and friction in the chord progressions to the profound chorus lyrics and storytelling verses.
The song ‘Seneca Falls’ has a very communal feel that I would assume was amazing to hear live.
It was featured on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4.
‘The Young Crazed Peeling’ serves as an recap of Dalle’s history, and who she is with reflection and positivity – the oft used juxtaposition in Punk music.
This album speaks on ‘freedom’ throughout in different contexts.
The titular track, ‘Sing Sing Death House’ is a straight forward great punk song. Dalle’s possessed vocals are exorcised in her slurred delivery of the lyrics.
The song ‘Young Girl’ interestingly calls back to The Blackest Years’ in which Brody sings to a ‘Gerti Rouge’ ringing her bell. The song potentially explored sexual abuse, approached with a more melodic guitar than usual.
– album artwork controversial
This album marks the first one with new label: Sire Records – the previous two made on Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records.
Coral Fang presents a much more honed in sound from the band with more refined lyricism and vocalization from Dalle.
The first two songs may have been a little lackluster for die hard fans since the beginning, but it’s nothing the third song can’t sort out. ‘Die on a Rope’ marks a marriage of their old raucous sounds with their new more refined sound.
‘The Hunger’ has to be one of the band’s most unique and raw songs. Dalle executes the late with alienated lyrics
The lyrics are somehow alienated from the 20th century rock instrumental yet work so well.
Dalle’s roaring screams elevate this classic sound with the emotive passion of punk.
‘Death Sex’ serves as a bittersweet farewell, for it was the band’s last album, remaster’s aside.
The Distiller’s need to be remembered as key if not main players in the Punk Rock of the early 21st century. Three albums, a lot of passion, killer chord progressions and ode’s to traditional themes in the hardcore music scene. Trials, tribulations and badass attitudes. In September 2019 the band announced they were set to begin making their fourth studio album. Although we are yet to hear it, there is not a lack of faith in the band who have remained relevant in appreciated in various forms. Brody and Tony went on to form the band ‘Spinnerette’ which were successful albeit nothing comparable to the Distiller’s infamous raucous energy. Dalle has also released music under her own name which fuses old school Distillers vibes with more refined lyrical and vocal flexibility.