If you ask a band or a musician about the hardest things that come with their craft, often they’ll mention trying to capture their live essence in a studio album. It can be difficult to appreciate the spontaneous energy that comes with playing live in a room with only a limited amount of time to get it right. New Brunswick, NJ, punk trio Screaming Females made an effort to achieve that with their seventh album All at Once released Feb 23 via Don Giovanni Records. It has the most songs on an album of theirs ever (with 15) and it’s intense and melodic. The band finds a perfect balance between the noisy and harmonious sides of punk.
Marissa Paternoster maintains her status as one of the best guitarists on the planet, with shredding that send chills down the spine. Her voice is still magnificent, able to yell to the high heavens while also able to be low key and melancholy. Each song is backed by the rock-solid foundation of King Mike on bass guitar and Jarrett Dougherty on drums: with each album Screaming Females put out, the both of them syncopate tighter and tighter. There’s a majestic essence when Paternoster, Mike and Dougherty plug in and play, and it only takes a few seconds of listening until the ears feel it.
The best punk stories these days come from bands who progressed from rocking basements in their hometown to playing venues and festivals all over the globe. It’s even better when the band still has complete control over how they present themselves and how they’re managed. Screaming Females are living proof, and they still embrace the DIY work ethic that brought them to where they are today. There’s something refreshing about a band that does what they want and call their own shots. Another thing that’s refreshing are my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:
Mike and Dougherty’s rhythmic brilliance is best exemplified in “Soft Domination” where the combo of seismic drumming and thudding bass accents Paternoster’s sheer power, making the track one to play on repeat. “I’ll Make You Sorry” harnesses the band’s live energy mentioned earlier. It also is a fantastic case of the trio’s ability to bring the noise along with resonating melody. With driving riffs, “Fantasy Lens” is in your face and unapologetic.
Screaming Females will be making their presence felt at AS220 on Apr 8 with Baton Rouge, LA, sludge masters Thou, Philly punks Hirs and Providence’s emphatic Assembly of Light Choir. This has what it takes to be one of the best shows to happen in Providence this year, so make sure to attend. While you’re there, peruse the merch table and grab a copy of All at Once. The electrifying barrage makes the album live up to its title.
Web site: screamingfemales.com