Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Record label: Don Giovanni
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
The sixth album from New Jersey trio Screaming Females isn't a departure from their previous five records, exactly: Rose Mountain still boasts the band's scrappy sonic mélange of grunge and classic rock, while guitarist Marissa Paternoster's solos are still as skilled and bracing as ever. But the band's abrasive edges have been smoothed down, and the songs themselves feel bigger and more accessible in structure — as accessible as the Screamales can get, anyway. This can be attributed in part to producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear), who expertly balances the band's blazing and highly melodic instrumentals without sacrificing the tough, unflinching core that makes them singular.
After making a pair of albums with Steve Albini behind the controls that emphasized the band's lean, powerful attack, Screaming Females have aimed for a change-up on 2015's Rose Mountain. On their sixth full-length album, Screaming Females were seemingly shooting for a beefed-up sound by teaming with producer and engineer Matt Bayles, whose résumé includes projects with Mastodon, Isis, and Pearl Jam. And it is true that Rose Mountain sounds noticeably bigger and fuller than Screaming Females' work with Albini, but thankfully, it doesn't sound particularly slicker; Bayles does wonders for Michael Abbate's bass tone, and he locks in with Jarrett Dougherty's drums with impressive accuracy and impact, but it's Marissa Paternoster who benefits most.
At least from my perspective, Screaming Femalesâ€™ strength has also been their greatest hindrance. The fact is, the band is a trio of maestros: lyrics that when removed form the music can rumble with the best of the best poetry, zipping guitar lines that are precise as they are frantic, bass and drums that lock together as though Butler and Ward had snuck into the studio. But, because the band has such talent and creativity zapping from their fingers at all times, itâ€™s almost too much for a knucklehead like myself to take in.
Let’s quickly get one thing out of the way: Screaming Females are one of the best and most consistent American rock bands of the past decade. Over the course of six full-length albums, the power trio has crawled out of the New Brunswick, New Jersey basement scene and on to stages with the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Arctic Monkeys. Their melodic and muscular rock and roll is reminiscent of the warm and fuzzy ’90s when Elastica and Jawbreaker still roamed the Earth.
When we last left the Screaming Females, they were shooting from the hip. The Chalk Tape EP, released in 2013, found the New Brunswick trio more or less winging seven tracks as inspiration struck them. All in all, it was a harmless experiment, and the fast and loose approach fit the band’s unfettered punk style. But Rose Mountain, the band’s sixth album, is a whole different beast, one that shows exactly what the trio can do with a little added time, polish, and attention to detail.
Screaming Females inevitably get compared to Sleater-Kinney. Both are power trios, both play loud, simple indie rock, and both are led by women who absolutely wail. But Screaming Females are probably more indebted to Dinosaur Jr., due in no small part to frontwoman Marissa Paternoster's terrific guitar solos. She can shred with the best of them, and the group's last full-length, Ugly, featured some seriously gnarly licks.
Screaming Females' 2012 album, Ugly, was a brazen arrangement of squeals, wails, and howls. Their new Rose Mountain, like the title suggests, pretties up the guitar rock trio's grotesque side. Since Ugly, Screaming Females have reworked their songwriting process, poring over the nuts and bolts of each composition. Marissa Paternoster, the band's vocalist and guitarist, also spent months fighting off a nasty bout of mono, and chronicled the sterile boredom of doctor's offices in a slew of new songs.
Screaming Females started from the bottom of a New Jersey basement, but it wasn't long before they were big enough to tour with bands like Against Me! and Garbage. The trio's sixth album is a rocker's delight, reviving the signature sludge of the Nineties on "Empty Head," hightailing into thrash territory for "Ripe" and easing into groovy prog splendor on "Burning Car." Boasting no-frills production by Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Mastodon), the album runs like a souped-up, punked-out station wagon, high on the fumes of nostalgia. As always, frontwoman Marissa Paternoster's winding guitar solos and dogged vibrato vocals steal the show.
Screaming Females are almost the Wes Anderson of rock at this point. Their albums, like Anderson’s films, are a repository of disparate influences and tropes, yet so completely appropriated into a form all their own that they become a highly idiosyncratic and singular vision, unmistakable for anyone else’s work. You know a Screaming Females song the instant you hear it.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: discover ….
For a decade, Marissa Paternoster, the diminutive dynamo at the heart of Screaming Females, has sung and played guitar with a ferocity that dares to be contained. The voice shakes with conviction, and her guitar fills and solos combust in a way that suggests the hyper-speed virtuosity of thrash metal or the most progressive alternative-rock bands (she grew up on a steady diet of Billy Corgan riffs). But on its sixth album, "Rose Mountain" (Don Giovanni Records), the New Jersey trio tempers the tempest.
Screaming Females release albums at a speedy rate, and their sixth is delivered with that same sense of brisk urgency. Singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster anchors the New Jersey grunge-punk three-piece, her vocals dramatic, furrowed-browed and on the hollering side, with a subtle vibrato used most effectively on third song Wishing Well. Her guitar riffs are loud, thick and sometimes ricochet up the fretboard to dazzling effect.