Track 10, "Red Carpet and Rebellion," has the lyric "colossally mistaken," which is a great lyric to have, though I don't know what it's about. Bloodshed, puritanic shit, ain't no money ain't no time, I'm out of my mind. St. Petersburg 1905—Yeah yeah yeah, and after that a shock of pogroms and my great-grandparents and their children fleeing for their lives. (The Distillers' actual lyrics seem not to coalesce into anything colossal, or even understandable. "Oh Serena, I know what they're saying about you. It's not true." But what are they saying about her? That she's a ditz, a frivolous airhead? Whereas we know that she's really Sailor Moon, the girl who will protect humankind from the evil forces of the Negaverse? But the song says nothing of the sort. The song says, "night irreverential, the time, carneleby is a bit of you." I'm not making this up.) "Gypsy Rose Lee": A pretty song. Brody Armstrong is scratching at the cracks in her voice, like Patti Smith, like Joe Strummer. She's not as brilliant as Joe, but like him she finds beauty amidst the ruin of her vocal cords. The joy of anguish.

Leatherface's Horsebox is yet another roar of beauty. Or beauty of roar, except it's a barely implied beauty of a would-be roar. I'm not sure how much I like it, but I keep listening out of curious fascination. The singing (by Frankie Stubbs) has scratch and ruin all right, but when you dig into it for a voice you get nothing. It's like listening to someone with laryngitis. Yet somehow it lifts itself—lifts its nothing—into melody, into a kind of sketchy transcendence. Two or three of the songs, anyway, could rank with "Suspect Device" and "Alternative Ulster," by Stiff Little Fingers. Which is pretty damn good, though with phlegm in place of the Stiffies' little screech. So I do like this album. "This is the spilt milk stench of wretch, an average cold walk home, avoiding sunspots, soundbites like snowstorms." That's telling 'em.


The Distillers offer a nice tuneful fuck (to?) you.
photo: B.J. Papas
The Distillers offer a nice tuneful fuck (to?) you.

Details

Lifter Puller
Fiestas + Fiascos
Frenchkiss/The Self-Starter Foundation
Buy Listen

The Distillers
The Distillers
Hellcat/Epitaph
Buy Listen

Leatherface
Horsebox
BYO
Buy Listen

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The Self-Starter Foundation, PO Box 422, New York, NY 10276; BYO Records, byorecords.com.

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