New Jersey’s own Screaming Females started out in 2005, self-releasing their first 2 albums. Those first two records sound like you’d expect music to, when it’s made by a three-piece indie-punk outfit that are doing it for themselves; like you’ve just walked into their garage and are witnessing them performing first hand. Upon signing to independent label Don Giovanni Records, aside from production sounding more polished, it was still business as usual. In any case, there’s no mistaking the sound of this band, particularly Marissa Paternoster’s idiosyncratic warbling voice, as well as her unique guitar playing style. Try to imagine the aggressiveness of Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and you might have some idea. She’s well aware of how good she is too. When speaking of her days in an after school music club, Paternoster remarked:
Everyone in the club was a boy. It was really, really scary and some of them were really mean to me. I had a hard time. What ultimately happened was — I don’t want to sound like a cocky jerk — but I was just better than them, and then they stopped being mean to me.
Aside from Paternoster’s talents, with the driving force combo of Jarrett Dougherty’s drumming and King Mike’s bass playing, the Females seemed to truly hit their stride by their fourth album, 2010’s Castle Talk. 2012’s Ugly saw the band working with legendary producer Steve Albini, stretching themselves further than ever before in the process; the album remains their longest work so far, clocking in at just under 54 minutes.
In this, their 10th year as a band, Screaming Females have unleashed their 6th album, Rose Mountain. The record comes after Marissa Paternoster’s battle with a severe bout of mononucleosis, her sickness serving as a catalyst for the LP. The ‘Females penchant for a more melodious approach to their songwriting continues with this album, particularly on Hopeless and most especially on the album’s title track. Aside from its intro, the song Rose Mountain has guitars which are distortion free, something which is a rarity for the average Screaming Females track. It’s also one of the highlights of the record. Lyrically, the album is loosely themed around death, injury and broken relationships – or so it would seem. In actual fact, Paternoster used her illness as a metaphor of sorts, using her detachment from her body as inspiration for many of the songs on Rose Mountain. Paternoster cites Hopeless as an example of this.
No, it’s not a breakup song at all. It’s mostly a song about wanting to break up with my body. Because it was causing me so much pain and grief. And so I used this universal format—which is the breakup song.
It may be pure conjecture, but you also could assume Paternoster had a similar lyrical theme in mind for the sublime, heavy guitar-riff driven Triumph.
So after 10 years, 6 albums and an illness which struck their lead singer, forcing them to cancel a number of tour dates in 2012 and even question the future of the band altogether, Screaming Females are showing no signs of running out of steam. They’ve come from adverse circumstances out the other side, and in the process they’ve turned out one of the finest albums of their career to date.