Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the New Brunswick, NJ-based JOVM mainstays Screaming Females. Comprised of Marissa Paternoster (guitar, vocals), King Mike (bass) and Jared Dougherty (drums), the trio cut their teeth playing their hometown’s renowned all-ages basement, punk rock scene; however, with the release of 2012’s Steve Albini-engineered Ugly, 2014’s forceful and raw live album, Live from the Hideout and 2015’s Matt Bayles-produced Rose Mountain, the Central New Jersey-based band received wider exposure from NPR, Last Call with Carson Daly and MTV. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Screaming Females have toured with a number of internationally and nationally known acts including Garbage, Throwing Muses, Dinosaur, Jr., The Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, JEFF the Brotherhood, Little Lungs, Cheeky, The Ergs, Shellsshag and others.
2015’s Rose Mountain was a decided change in songwriting and recording approach, with the band writing arguably some of the most concise, melodic and accessible material they’ve released, while retaining the blazing guitar work and muscular insistence of their previously recorded work. Up until last year, a couple of years had passed since they had released new material, and “Black Moon,” the first single off their recently released All At Once not only continues their ongoing collaboration with Matt Bayles, it also reveals a band that’s restlessly experimenting with their songwriting approach and song; in the case of “Black Moon,” there’s a continued attention on a forceful conciseness but a greater attention to crafting razor sharp hooks while thematically, Paternoster meshes the metaphor of a post apocalyptic earth with the universal experience of a relationship that has ended in a rather embittering, frustrating and demoralizing fashion.
Interestingly, with All At Once, the band reportedly set out set out to write an album in the spirit of a salon-style gallery show, where the larger pieces provide an eye-level focal point to a galaxy or smaller works — and as a result of a more expansive thematic reach, the members of the band openly and decidedly focused on experimentation with arrangements and song structure to evoke the energy and spontaneity of their live sets. As the band’s Mike Dougherty explains of their motivation “When you’ve been a band for 12 or 13 years, the resources can dry and you just go back to what feels comfortable. The other option is that you develop stuff that a younger band would not have been able to do.”
You might recall that All At Once’s first official single “Glass House” found the band embracing a simplicity — with Paternoster playing two relatively simple riffs in a 90s grunge rock structure paired with some incredibly melodic vocals. “A song like ‘Glass House’ is something we knew we were capable of, but it took a while to fully embrace,” Paternoster says in press notes. “It’s something very simple — just bass, drums and two simple riffs. In the past, I might have insisted on adding more. Practicing self-restraint is something I have consciously been trying to do.” The album’s second official single, “I’ll Make You Sorry” may be one of the more decidedly straightforward, arena rock friendly songs they’ve released to date, bolstered by Paternoster’s powerhouse vocals. While reminding the listener that she may be small but that she roars with a mighty, oceanic force.
Directed by Lance Bangs, the recently released video features the band performing the song in an abandoned loft space with the band’s Paternoster beginning the video laying on the floor or in rubble, before seeing the entire band shred.