With the release of their sixth full-length album Rose Mountain earlier this year, the New Brunswick, NJ-based trio Screaming Females have dominated the blogosphere both nationally and internationally. And considering the fact that the band’s members — Marissa Paternoster (guitar, vocals), Jarrett Dougherty (drums) and King Mike (bass) — got their start playing Central New Jersey’s DIY, all-ages basement circuit, their rise has been on one level phenomenal, and on another level, unsurprising. Over the course of the trio’s first five albums, they’ve developed a reputation for crafting material that was sprawling and towering, consisting of blistering guitar lines and a taut rhythm section pair with Paternoster’s sneering howl. But they’ve probably won the most attention for a live show that’s frenetic and full of furious energy that seems to belie the trio’s endearingly reticent, awkward off-stage presence. Live, Paternoster and company at times seem surprised by their own hard-fought success and by the attention they’ve received — and yet, they are frankly a force to be reckoned with. As I’ve mentioned several months ago, in particular, Paternoster may be small but she stomps and roars.
Interestingly, the release of Rose Mountain marks two very important milestones for the band. First, this year marks the trio’s tenth anniversary, and if you think a blog being around for 5 years is an achievement, think about a band lasting for a decade in this strange and wild, new musical landscape in which bands hardly make a dime. And throughout the band’s ten years together, the trio have fiercely and steadfastly held on to the DIY ethos that they were brought up in; in fact, their five previous releases were self-produced, although they enlisted the iconoclastic (and influential) producer and engineer Steve Albini to engineer 2012’s Ugly and their impressive and forceful 2014 live album, Live at the Hideout. (By the way, Live at the Hideout is highly recommended as it accurately evokes the energy and sound of Screaming Females’ live set.) Secondly, and perhaps coincidentally, the New Brunswick-based trio’s sixth album marks the first time that the band has worked with an outside producer — in this case, Matt Bayles, best known for his work with Mastodon and The Sword.
Whereas, the band’s previous releases were sprawling, the material on Rose Mountain reflects a decided change in their songwriting and recording approach, as the album is comprised of material that is arguably the most concise, melodic and downright radio-friendly/accessible they’ve ever released — all while retaining the blazing guitar work, throbbing rhythm section and fury of their previous work.
Rose Mountain‘s latest single, “Empty Head” much like album’s previous singles — i.e., “Criminal Image” and “Ripe” — reveal the trio’s change in approach, as the songs are much more straightforward with easily discernible song structures — while retaining elements of the sound that has won the New Jersey-based trio attention. In many ways, it’s a clear refinement of their sound, without attempting to sell out. Interestingly enough, sonically the single consists of dirge-like guitar chords that remind me quite a bit of L7‘s “Pretend We’re Dead;” however, the lyrically the song comes form a deeply personal place that gives the song an emotional forcefulness.
The recently released official video features some of Paternoster’s surrealistic monster illustrations coming to life and stalking and running amok in a somewhat urban/suburban landscape, and it gives the video a playful, wondrous air.
Be on the lookout for the band, as they’re about to embark on a summer tour. Check out the tour dates, below:
7/27: Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
7/28: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
7/29: Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
7/30: Milwaukee, WI @ Borg Ward
7/31: Madison, WI @ The Frequency
8/1: Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
8/2: Iowa City, IA @ The Mill
8/3: Omaha, NE @ Sweatshop Gallery
8/4: Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
8/6: Boise, ID @ Neurolux
8/7: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
8/8: Vancouver, BC @ Media Club*
8/9: Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
8/11: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
8/13: Honolulu, HI @ The Manifest
8/14: Honolulu, HI @ Downbeat Lounge
8/16: Santa Ana, CA @ Berserktown
8/17: San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
8/18: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
8/19: El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace
8/21: Austin, TX @ Red 7
8/22: Dallas, TX @ The Foundry
8/23: Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
8/24: New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
8/25: Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox
8/26: Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5
8/27: Durham, NC @ Pinhook
8/28: Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
8/29: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer