For destitute, bumming-change-in-front-of-McDonald's punk, look no further than the Distillers. The outfit boasts the magnificent, mouthful-of-marbles gutter punk accent of Brody, wife of Rancid's Tim Armstrong. Born in Australia, Brody had a rough childhood and was booted out of two all-girl Catholic schools before making her way to L.A.
Improving on its fine self-titled debut, the band's latest, Sing Sing Death House, is battle-scarred and resolute. On "Seneca Falls," an appreciation of the women's suffrage movement set to chugging guitars and 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. Otherwise, the music is stirring, coming as it does from a gang of street kids with lip piercings. "The Young Crazed Peeling" is about having a crappy upbringing, surviving, and actually becoming a happily married punk. It's a story with the uncharacteristic ending that punks born of squalor can rise up and create music as impassioned and (relatively) positive as this.