Friday 6 March 2015

Review of 'Rose Mountain' by Screaming Females

New Jersey punk trio, Screaming Females, are priviledged to have such a badass vocalist. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to call her style ‘screaming’ as the band name suggests, it’s definitely a step up in intensity from your usual average rock chick vocals - a kind of manic, blood-pumping wail of sorts more similar to Siouxsie Sioux or that dude from Glassjaw (forgive me if I’m just listing off random names. It’s how us music bloggers work).

These mental vocals give Screaming Females a real standout persona, but what really distinguishes them from being any other bog-standard punk band is the fact that they can truly play their instruments.

This is more apparent on Rose Mountain than any previous releases from the trio. Whilst the production has all the satisfyingly intimate quality of a local band jamming in their garage, the musicianship is as rhythmically tight as a top-notch classic rock act. Stylistically it’s also fairly eclectic. The riff that opens the album wouldn’t feel out of place on an early Foo Fighters record, whilst the second track features some mean shredding more in tone with a metal band like Mastodon. 

Altogether the first half of this album is borderline perfect. Its catchy, angsty, punchy rock that makes you want to jump on your bed and throw objects around until your parents or the police come to stop you. Unfortunately, this wild energy loses momentum slightly on the second half, with tracks like ‘Hopeless’ and ‘It’s not fair’ feeling a little lazy instrumentally. Closing track, ‘Criminal Image’ manages to redeem the album somewhat, ending the record on an epic but tastefully performed guitar solo. Clearly, true punk elitists won’t like it, but it’s this more polished style of playing that for me makes Rose Mountain a better record than its predecessor, Ugly. Things aren’t as sloppy this time around – the music’s arguably leaner – but the songwriting and musical talent really gets to shine as a result. The lo-fi grittiness of the production meanwhile provides the meatiness and rough edges that stop the music from feeling cold and robotic. The result is a rock record that’s both raw and refined.