Brody Armstrong of the Distillers is an authentic punk rock poster child, and don’t you forget it pal! Possessing a voice that sounds like Joan Jett tossing down steroids with a strychnine-laced whiskey chaser, Armstrong walks the walk and talks the talk like few rockers have been able to. And don’t believe for a minute, buttercup, that Ms. Brody got her recording gig courtesy of husband and fellow punk-for-life Tim Armstrong of Rancid. The Distillers kick out the jams with every bit as much muscle, ferocity, spit and vinegar as any hardcore posse out there today. If you don’t believe me, throw Sing Sing Death House on yer measly little boombox and get ready to dodge the chunks of plaster falling from your ceiling for the next thirty minutes.
Listening to Sing Sing Death House, one gets the distinct impression that for Armstrong, punk is more than a way of life, it’s also an escape from this mundane mortal vale. When Armstrong asks “are you ready to be liberated” at the beginning of the “The Young Crazed Peeling,” you know that homegirl isn’t whistling Dixie (which would be hard for her to do anyway since she’s from Australia...) Much like Rancid, Brody’s Distillers bring a decidedly populist bent to their material – Armstrong isn't a particularly poetic songwriter, but she is an effective one, and certainly not beyond throwing out a tortured growl if needed to express her feelings.
All of the songs are delivered with an energetic, high-voltage hardcore hum, the Distillers cutting through all the bullshit to deliver raw, unadorned, honest-to-god punk rock thrills. At the end of the album, either you got it or you didn’t. Personally, I couldn’t give a shit either way; I’m going to listen to Sing Sing Death House again... (Hellcat Records, released February 12th, 2002)
Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2002
Buy the CD from Amazon: The Distillers' Sing Sing Death House