Some songs bimble along into your line of hearing perfectly formed and doing everything you ever wanted them to do like they’re a little nursery rhyme you’ve known all your life…
Like it ain’t no big thing at all to be chugging out a Hellcat records style riff and a country music inflected vocal melody that puts you in mind of Johnny Cash. Little perfect nuggets of noise and attitude sounding a bit Hole, a bit Oi, a bit pop and a bit familiar despite being the hot new thing in punk in 2002 don’t come along every day. When they do you sit up and take notice.
The thing about City Of Angels is everyone who likes heavy, raw, alternative music accepts it a brilliant anthem. A gigantic catchy bit of timeless pure punk that is completely 4 real and yet entirely dancable.
I knew who the Distillers were before Sing Sing Death House. I liked them. They made a raw and ragged debut album with tracks like Red Carpet and Rebellion and Oh Serena showing their abilities with a hook among some of the most feral gutter punk screeching. I was not however, expecting this. This being one of the most perfect records I think I’ve ever heard. There’s no secret ingredient, there’s nothing in City Of Angels that isn’t in the rest of the bands output. This is the AC/DC equation.
You take the same constituent parts that made the last track. Guitar, drums, bass, a growling rock voice and you reconfigure them time and again. Turn up the snarl you get Sing Sing Death House, amplify the Oi you get Lordy Lordy. Go heavier on the guitar and you get Die On A Rope and back off on the speed and you get The Hunger. It’s all clearly the work of the same band.
Their particular alchemy making a rather agreeable noise to those of a similar bent to my own ears. Every now and again though, that alchemist lab hits a perfect formulation. City Of Angels is fucking perfect. The same way a pint of Adnams Broadside and a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich in Granary with Salt and Vinegar Crisps is fucking perfect.
It’s the ideal combination of noises. Not in a generic way. In a ‘one of the top 10 punk rock records of the 21st century’ kind of way.
The mix of Joan Jett cool, Rancid fury and Bikini Kill urgency really hits a spot. What could be better than that?
Except some un-distilled Joan Jett herself…