Screaming Females “All at Once” is essential listening

Screaming Females “All at Once” is essential listening


When you hear that Screaming Females are a punk band from New Brunswick, NJ, you probably think of one of two things–a savage hardcore band or a mall pop-punk heavily influenced by blink-182 and their ilk. You’d be wrong on both counts. Screaming Females, despite a punk foundation, have much more in common with indie’s modest and restrained songwriting and alternative rock’s big and dour choruses. Screaming Females, a three piece fronted by Marissa Paternoster have tasted some of the adornments of mainstream success–playing with The Dead Weather and Arctic Monkeys; recording an album with Steve Albini, member of Shellac, Big Black and producer of Nirvana’s In Utero. Used in a more exploitative fashion, dressed up like a popstar, Paternoster probably could be just that. Her voice is big, like Janis Joplin big, Maynard James Keenan big, Adele big. But she uses that big voice on All At Once with great restraint. She teases it over sludgy riffs, clever hooks and compelling but at the same-time simple song structures until finally the chorus hits and her voice takes over. The band could be, or not be. She could play guitar, or not, and the song would still be there. “I’ll Make You Sorry” will likely be the most listener’s first introduction to the band and its ironic then that it is really the band’s first “pop punk” tune. Parternoster delivers a sweet-as-sugar riff under a chorus she delivers nonchalantly. “I once was in love before/I knew you/But I’ve given up,” shrugs the chorus. Even while utilizing a more accessible palette Paternoster maintains a grunge sensibility. On All at Once that dichotomy defines the band but it doesn’t hold them back.

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