A couple days ago, New Jersey rockers Screaming Females put out their seventh LP. All At Once solidifies the band within grad school status as it not only marks their first release in their second decade, but has the power trio’s technical skill at a new height. They’ve come a long way since their first release Baby Teeth; relentless touring, illness from singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster, and always dipping their toes in different genres from alt-rock to metal.
At certain points on All At Once, one can’t help but listen in awe as the Screaming Females seem to always throw new elements at their audience that challenge while still staying true to their punk roots. As with many of their past songs, there are so many moments on the new Double LP that will stun listeners by how simple yet, complex they are both lyrically and musically.
Right out of the gate, Screaming Females holds nothing back. While Glass House is a great way to introduce the record, the second song Black Moon is the first that caught my ear. Musicians, like all other people, get older and more experienced. These days, only some bands make it past five years, and almost none make it to ten. Black Moon, along with the following track I’ll Make You Sorry is are perfect exemplifications of the band’s dedication to honing their skill and being a band in general. Paternoster’s singing fluctuates more than ever, adding so much depth to the arrangements on the record.
Rhythmically speaking, bassist King Mike and drummer Jarrett Dougherty seem more locked in with each other on All At Once, and rightfully so. Almost every sub-genre is portrayed on the LP including some tracks that pay homage to heavy metal like Agnes Martin and My Body. There wasn’t any room to be loose in performance and the rhythm section stepped up in a big way on All At Once (not that they haven’t in the past). On the flip side of the metal tracks, the softer songs resonate nicely between the big riffs and driving anthemic tracks. The song Deeply shows the band in a more self-aware light, and Birds in Space will take the listener by surprise as the Screaming Females play with empty space in the arrangement. Still, the band is very much true to their old work on songs like Fantasy Lens where the lyrics echo songs on Castle Talk, “Should I lay with my head bowed down? Exist in exits, but where, where can I exist?”.
We talk about transcending genres on this website a lot. It’s important to reiterate this concept, though, because the artists we like to talk about are the ones making a big splash in the scene whether it’s movies or music. It should be noted that Screaming Females, along with many of the other bands featured on this site are not afraid of doing something new. All At Once is a great record in that is not only shows where underground music has been the last decade but where it could be in the next.
Click here to see the video for I’ll Make You Sorry.
– By Mike Metcalf