I first encountered New Brunswick shredders Screaming Females six years ago at World Cafe Live. In retrospect, the tidy and proper venue was an unlikely spot to see a punk rock power trio that, up until that point, had been fixtures on the basement and house show circuit. But paired with alt-rock icons Throwing Muses, the energy was electric and the fit couldn’t have been more perfect. I was an instant convert, and have seen them in all manner of settings since: a brutally crowded Pi Lam show, a glorious New Years’ eve gig at Johnny Brenda’s, numerous appearances in the First Unitarian Church basement.
As far as the current punk landscape, the Screamales’ playing is unparalleled. Frontwoman Marissa Paternoster is a remarkable guitarist with a powerful voice, and backed by drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist Michael Abbate, the band creates a wall of noise and fuzz and melody and lightning-fast playing, no fuss no muss. Their A.V. Club covers are incredible (from Sheryl Crow to Taylor Swift) and Paternoster dabbles in compelling side pursuits (like Noun, which recently played one of Sebastian Petsu’s Double Decker Music Series shows). You could probably, were you so inclined, trace their lineage through bands like Dinosaur Jr. and PJ Harvey and whoever else came before. But to me, Screaming Females songs sound like Screaming Females, and they’re all the awesomer for it.
This year, the band celebrated its first decade together and released its sixth album, Rose Mountain, via revered Jersey imprint Don Giovanni records. It’s arguably the Scremales’ most adventurous album to date, but also its most accessible; in addition to the hard-hitting thrash we know and love from them, there are more nuanced moments – atmospheric expanses, poppy hooks and epics like “Criminal Image.” When Rob Huff interviewed the band back in February, that’s the song Paternoster likened to Pearl Jam, and their performance of it for the Key Studio Sessions is absolutely killer.
To say we’re stoked to have Screaming Females on the Key Studio Sessions is something of an understatement; their performance rips, mixing in Rose Mountain songs with songs from 2012’s Ugly (“Tell Me No”) and 2010’s Castle Talk (“Sheep”), and getting to watch these masters of their craft at work was a real treat. Listen to the session below and watch a video of “Rose Mountain” via VuHaus, and grab a download of the set over at our Soundcloud page.
Like it was when I first saw them in this building six years ago, the energy is unreal, and this is only a fraction of what we’ll see when the band headlines Union Transfer on Saturday, August 29th. Get tickets and more information on that show at the XPN Concert Calendar; or, if you’re feeling lucky, have a go at winning yourself a pair of tickets at the WXPN Facebook page.
Screaming Females, The Key Studio Sessions, Union Transfer