By Michael Farah
I know it’s easy to put rock music into little boxes, a convenient shorthand that defines what a band is all about. And make no mistake, there are all kinds of labels flying at the Screaming Females right now: DIY, queer rock, punk, lo-fi, garage rock, etc.
However, when my ears took in the aural assault laid upon us December 12 at Terminal 5 in NYC, I could only think one thing: “Thank God grunge is back!”
Consider the evidence:
- Their name reminds us of the Screaming Trees, Mark Lanegan’s late 80s-early 90s outfit.
- They’re a power trio like Nirvana.
- Although I didn’t see much flannel, their clothes are definitely thrift-store chic.
- They’re from a thriving, yet still somewhat underground, music scene: New Brunswick, NJ.
- Their performance is pure grunge: hair in the face, heads banging, feedback manipulation, and of course, guttural screams.
Most of that last one is due to the raucous bolt of energy that is the Females’ lead singer/guitarist, Marissa Paternoster. The smallest figure on the stage, she is also the most mesmerizing, with a booming voice and guitar rifts that literally rock your socks off. To say the woman “shreds” is an understatement.
Backed by big, goofy bassist (where have we seen that before?) King Mike and earnest beat-keeper (and Where’s Waldo lookalike) Jarret Dougherty, the Females dish out a brand of thundering rock that takes parts from Sleater-Kinney, Nirvana and Black Sabbath, mixes in a dash of propulsive modern groove and comes out the other side sounding brilliantly original.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that this band is the real deal, check your pulse. You can find their new album, Power Move, from Don Giovanni Records on their website, www.screamingfemales.com. See them now, while you can still get close.