Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


The most notable thing about indie guru Steve Albini’s involvement with the Screaming Females’ fifth album is how little about the band he bothered to change. But then, Albini’s a smart guy, and the first rule of punk rock – the first rule of anything, really – is don’t fix what ain’t broke. If anything, Albini probably just kept the coffee pot filled; after four albums of frantic, frenetic, high-energy rock squall, you had to wonder if the Screamales could crank it up another notch. Well, they could, and did. Everything about Ugly sounds like the Screaming Females except ever-so-much-more-so; Marissa Paternoster’s dexterous shredding and banshee vocals seem even edgier and more possessed than ever. If Albini makes a decision on this album, it’s that in the contest between Paternoster’s awesome guitar skills and her uniquely acerbic vocals, her voice turns out to be the more potent weapon. Yes, there are solos and yes, there are riffs you can barely follow with human ears, but it’s that voice that stands out more than anything here. That’s not to say that bassist King Mike and drummer Jarrett Daugherty disappear; it’s their precision and economy that provide the canvas on which Paternoster gets to splatter her vivid colors. But except for a few moments when the drums clatter the intro to a song or Mike’s bass burbles a little riff between power chords, the spotlight remains focused tightly on the little girl in the old-fashioned dress with the big guitar and bigger voice. The band stretches to 14 songs (their other full lengths stuck to 10 tracks) but there’s no filler on Ugly; if anything, the final few are the album’s strongest. And then there’s “It’s Nice,” the closing track that lets Marissa sing rather than yowl and swaddles her voice with acoustic guitar and orchestral strings. It’s so powerful a statement that it suggests there’s another whole album inside of Paternoster that sounds nothing like Screaming Females. But then, nothing else sounds like Screaming Females already.
– Jim Testa


Yes, this is the album that was recorded by Steve Albini. And the band doesn’t want you to care about that, because this is their record, not his. OK, fair enough. This is a great album that MUST be heard by everyone. It’s less melodic than 2010’s Castle Talk, more modal, but it’s also more ambitious, and vocalist Marissa Paternoster’s singing is even stronger than before, a remarkable feat. The post-punk/post-grunge blend is still very evident, but the arrangement is a little thinner in places, a little thicker in others. In places you can hear very distinct guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and in places it’s wall-o-sound. Maybe the result of the aforementioned producer/engineer we’re not supposed to mention? Whatever the case, it’s effective and really showcases the band’s sound and strengths. “Doom 84” is an astounding track, clocking in at over seven and a half minutes. Not your typical punk track, this leans more toward the post-grunge feel, but the amazing things Paternoster does with her voice on this track have to be heard to be believed. She reminds me somewhat of Alzbeth from The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud – but that won’t mean anything to most Jersey Beat readers. The album ends with a track called, “It’s Nice,” something that’s completely different from the rest of the album. It’s alternately just vocals and acoustic guitar, and lush orchestration with violins, cello, etc. Screaming Females will be touring this spring in support of the new album. Their live shows are even more ridiculously good than their recordings, so be sure to catch them! - Paul Silver

The Screaming Females rule. I remember hearing rumblings about them in New Brunswick and meaning to check them out. Fast forward to the night of the record release show for Baby Teeth, their debut LP. I was playing a show in a nearby basement and couldn’t make it in time for their set, but as soon as I was done I ran over to their show to pick up a copy. I was pretty blown away by it. It was an incredible mix of indie rock, post punk, and dare I say it, classic rock. And it was funky! It was awesome. Then I saw them live. It was powerful to say the least….and they were playing through such tiny amps. How was it possible? In any case, with time came more awesome records, “What If Someone Was Watching Their TV?”, “Power Move”, and “Castle Talk”. While they were great records with incredible songs, something was missing. The loud powerful live sound. Enter Steve Albini. Finally that massive drum sound I’ve been waiting for in a Screamales record. In fact, everything is nice and in your face. Do yourself a favor and find an hour and a nice LOUD sound system and crank this one up. And be prepared to cancel your plans for the rest of the evening ‘cause you’ll be replaying this one a few times tonight. Scremales rule, OK? –Mikey Erg is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

Jersey Beat Podcast

Home | Contact Jersey Beat | Sitemap

©2010 Jersey Beat & Not a Mongo Multimedia

Music Fanzine - Jersey Beat