Monday, December 21, 2009

Review #8: The Distillers - The Distillers (2000)

Year: 2000
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: Epitaph Records
Tracks: 14
Length: 40 Minutes (Long)
Style: Angry/Rebellious/Happy
My Rating: 7/8

In the beginning half of this decade, there was this band called the Distillers which are my favorite band of this era of music, even though they broke up a few years ago. Now Brody and Tony (who isn't on this album) are in a new band called "Spinnerrette", which isn't nearly as good as the Distillers, but they make some great songs, too. Brody Dalle had also been in a band called Sourpuss in the '90s, which I will review later on.

The year before, the band had released a 7" EP which had early versions of four of the songs from this album, which is also a pretty good listen, and has a more lo-fi production quality. I'd say that the Distillers was one of the last bands for a very long time to record some really solid albums. You can listen to this not feel like there's anything missing from it. It just has that classical quality to it. It's a shame they're not as celebrated now as they probably should be. The album has a large Hole influence, which led some people to see them as another rip-off, but Brody's voice is actually a lot stronger than Courtney's, and the Distillers' music is generally a lot faster than Hole. I think it's okay to sound a little bit like another band as long as you actually add on something or change some things about the formula. And now, here is Brody Dalle, the most beautiful woman that has ever existed:

Gorgeous, isn't she? This was the last Distillers album to feature the original line-up, which had Matt Young as the drummer, Kim Fuelman doing the bass guitar and the backup vocals, and Casper Rose, who does the... other guitar. Well, here iz the part where I talk about the aktual songs:

1. Oh Serena
This is the first song. It has a kind of Rancid-like sound to it, but I'm not really sure what it's about. The main chorus done throughout the song is "Oh, Serena!". It's a nice opener, but there are much better songs in the album. Oh, and it's kinda fast.

2. Idoless
This song is slightly faster than the last one. Brody sure uses a lot of big words in this song. The song seems to be about finding your own identity or place in life, or somethin' like that.

3. The World Comes Tumblin'
I really like this one, now! Starts out with an upbeat riff and a fast drum-beat. Then the tempo goes down a little, and there's this awesome chorus that goes "Come on, come on, come on, come on, I beggg you... When my world comes tumblin' down!" It just rocks a lot. I listen to this in the car a lot. The lyrics aren't that happy, and I think they might be about Brody's childhood. But this is a great song!

4. L.A. Woman
This is a song that was on the debut EP. Brody's voice sounds like Courtney Love's a little in this one. I think it is about the struggles of living in Los Angeles, that leads her to believe that "God almighty" is "NOT red, white, and blue." I like the vocal harmonies in the chorus to this one.

5. Distilla Truant
Asks questions of why the United States government likes to use and abuse its citizens like pawns to accomplish its goals. It's an under-rated song, and it has good harmonies. Halfway through, they sing a slower version of chorus, and then the song speeds up again.

6. Ask the Angels
This is a cover of a song by Patti Smith, but this version is pretty good. You even hear a PIANO in this song, which adds a certain level of coolness to this one. It's a real great song, and it's even got a solo in it. The old-school punk original rules, too. This cover does it justice.

7. Old Scratch
This one is a criticism of churches and organized religion that suck individuality out of their followers and fill them with fear for their lives. This iz the shortest song on the album, being just over 40 seconds long.

8. Girl-Fixer
Another favorite of mine. It's a girl fight anthem that kicks in with Kim on the vocals to a hyper-fast beat in the verses, and then a less-fast, badass chorus from Brody! Awesome song on a lot of levels.

9. Open Sky
You can feel the urgent aura of what sounds like frustration in this one. Starts calm with Brody singing along with some soft bass, but then the rest sets in, and it turns into a frantic slam-fest, dealing with the issue of stress.

10. Red Carpet and Rebellion
A song about social revolution. Makes references to the Russian Revolution, and basically encourages a similar uprising in the United States, as "they aren't out to get ya 'cause you're so far away".

11. Colossus U.S.A.
This song is about poverty and the difficulty of finding employment as a poor person in the United States. My favorite part of the song is the "What ya live for, when you're no-one, what you do and where ya come from?" part... just hooks you in, ya know? It alternates between mid-tempo sections, and fast, hectic ones. Brody's voice sounds awesome, here.

12. Blackheart
My favorite song on the album. A lot of people probably see it as filler, but I just really like this one. It's chock-full of rage, energy, and excellent vocal harmonies. I don't really know what the lyrics mean here, but the main line throughout the later part of the song is "Don't I Need This?". The chorus takes up most of the song, and it starts with Brody and Kim simply harmonizing the lyrics, until Kim just keeps going, and Brody is screaming her lungs out in punk-rock fury. I listen to this one while driving a lot.

13. Gypsy Rose Lee
This is some sort of love song, I think. I think Gypsy Rose Lee herself was some sort of burlesque entertainer from the 1950s. Not my favorite song on the whole album, but it is still a good song, and I lot of people seem to like this one.

14. The Blackest Years
This song has some competition with Blackheart for which one is my favorite track on the album. And what do you know? They both have the word "Black" in the title! Anyways, this is the last song on the album, and it's a fucking great ending for it. There's hardly anything wrong with this song, it's just a somewhat touching song about how Brody feels that she is living the blackest (worst?) years of her life. It's a really good song. I love how the beat suddenly changes to a different one at the "I'm goin' home" part, and then the song goes back to normal. The song fades out, and the album is over... or is it?

Hidden Track: Young Girls
This song later appeared on "Sing Sing Death House". This song just has Brody singing and playing the guitar, which actually sounds really nice. It sounds like it's about Brody Dalle's friend who was apparently hurt by a man in some way, and I think Brody is supposed to be encouraging her friend not to kill herself, when you hear the line "Don't go up and burn in the fire". The song ends kinda abruptly.

This is a really good album! The main lyrical theme here seems to be mostly poverty and Brody's bad childhood, but it's definitely not a depressing whine-fest. In my opinion, this was one of the last truly great rock albums, and the Distillers were one of the last truly great bands. I wish I had known about them before they broke up. So, check it out. It is legit.

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