Screaming Females are my band of the hour, so I thought I’d follow the theme of the week with a word gush about their latest offering Rose Mountain.
It’s a brilliant ballsy record and the more I play it, the more it pushes itself forward in the list of my favorite SF albums. It hasn’t quite surpassed Baby Teeth and Castle Talk but I think it sits just below them. It’s been a pretty fast love affair since it was only released a few months ago and could be a contender for album of the year.
So how did I fall in love with this band? Well I’m going to tell you my version of events but others do lay claim that they have responsibility for exposing me to these guys…but that’s bullshit because how could I ever forget the first time I heard this unique sound that completely consumes my heart and soul? Well, I can’t because it stole me away the very first time I saw them and that was when they played with Garbage and covered ‘Because the Night’ which was written and performed by the most iconic ladyface in punk rock whom I adore…and not in my girlfriends van listening to DOOM84 on a mix tape made by my delusional best friend.
This was my first exposure to Screaming Females, I promise.
If you read my Wednesday post you will know that I went to see these guys play Bristol last week. It was great…a little short but fantastic all the same. I live for live music, a forty minute set from a band or artist that resonates is worth more than a thousand memories of a seven day spa.
I really love their sound but I also really like this bands attitude. I admire Paternoster for rocking harder than a rock lobster through her chronic pain from Fibromyalgia, as someone who also suffers from chronic pain, she makes me feel lazy. I like that these guys are fundamentally friends and have known each other through school and college. I just watched Lance Bang’s documentary on the band and it was really quite moving to see how they band together to make their art. At one point in the feature Paternoster says ‘I wouldn’t play if I didn’t have these guys’.
They are a really hard working band, if any band I’ve covered on these blog posts deserves your affectionate attention it’s these guys. Go buy the records. Go see a show. Go buy some merch. Go support the hard work of a true musical prodigy.
Empty Head – First up why would you put salt in somebody’s drink? That’s just mean. This is a bit of a break up track. Actually I kind of imagine people have felt this way about me and deigned never to speak to me again…probably on more than one occasion. The thing to mention on this track and I feel like if I fan girl anymore over how awesomely talented Paternoster is, I may get cease and desist letters BUT the video for this track is a time lapse of one of her sketches and yeah this ladyface excretes talent from every single pore.
Ripe – My first impression of this song was also that it might be a break up track, what with the line ‘if you’re through with me then please just say so’. BUT then I read the lyrics and whilst it still seems to be a break up track, it seems to be a break up track with self-harm through drugs. There is quite graphic description of shooting up and the whole Horses imagery may be a throwback to the 60’s iconic album by Patti Smith. Smith wrote a lot of that album and the title track about her experiences watching those she loved and admired, like Robert Maplethorpe and Janis Joplin get utterly consumed by heroin. I’m pretty sure Paternoster has a bit of an affinity for PS as do most androgynous girls who love rock and roll. This is all speculative and lyrically ambiguous which is what good music is for. If you write a novel, the way you have sketched it out in your mind will ultimately vary from each persons imaginative interpretation. This is a great track, it’s my second favorite on the album because it’s really fucking heavy and shows off why I think Paternoster is the greatest living guitarist.
Wishing Well – One gets the impression that whilst Paternoster was writing the lyrics to this album she was waiting for a very important phone call because sitting by the telephone seems to be a recurring theme throughout. I really love the line ‘in the next life I’ll be better’. I think as a species, we humans take so much for granted and we tend to give up on our dreams at the first hurdle. The thing is though is that this is it. The earth has been standing for billions of years, we’ll be standing, if we’re lucky maybe 60. We are not guaranteed an eternity to get it right, so get it wrong and in the words of Aaliyah ‘dust yourself off and try again’ because I think the Screaming Females are being sarcastic.
Burning Car – It’s a bit annoying that half the sites I usually use to look up lyrics are extremely lacking when it comes to Screaming Female tracks, what is up with that? I get the impression that the line ‘There are ways to fix a broken sound, with my head in the sky and my ear to the ground’ eludes to the problems that may arise when searching for inspiration for something new to add to your next artistic venture, in this case I imagine it’s writing a song. I wouldn’t know because musically I am challenged. I bought a drum kit years back and learned a few tricks but I lost interest and they are gathering dust back at my mums. It’s just not something I’m passionate about. I guess I’m more of a listener than a player. That said I am passionate about many other art forms so I get that whole ‘writers block’ phenomenon. For me that’s what this track is kicking the shit out of, ‘HEY BRAIN! FUCK YOU! I GOT THIS!’.
Broken Neck – I’m going to be bold here and hazard a guess that this song is about the frustration with being sick and medical professionals telling you nothings wrong. If not then this track definitely helps me identify those feelings within myself. It is a constant battle with Medical Professionals, you know you better than anyone, if you don’t feel right then push and push until you get an answer that leaves nothing up to the imagination.
Rose Mountain – It’s the title track and it’s smack bang in the middle to smack you in the face halfway through. In that documentary I watched about these guys, it’s revealed that Rose Mountain is actually a drug rehabilitation center that Marissa drove past and thought sounded beautiful. That line ‘I’m nothing like the others, I was made just for you’ is such a cheese ball line that every new relationship hails in various forms. One partner will say, ‘My ex punched me in the vagina and stole my peanut butter’ and the other touches their face and strokes their hair and says ‘I’m not an asshole’…they are lying, everyone is an asshole, some will just try harder than others to be a better person. I really like the piano outro that leads into the next song because it beautifully sets up the most majestic track on the album.
Hopeless – In the documentary Paternoster claims that this is a break up song about her body but then bassist King Mike later says, that Marissa won’t admit it but it’s just a break up song. I have to say though, I relate more to Paternoster’s explanation, so I’m going to choose to believe her. This is by far my most favorite track on the album and probably second from the whole Screaming Females back catalog (*Boss is my absolute). It’s just so brutal. Such raw emotion in any lyrical masterpiece blows my heart to smithereens every time I hear it and that happens with this track every damn time.
Triumph – This is a really great showcase of all three members talent. I’ve spoken at length about Paternoster’s genius so lets shed some love on the other two. Jarrett Dougherty is your drummer, he kicks out some jams. He was missing a full kit when I saw them last week but on the songs they did play he made them seem effortless, like he had drum limbs. King Mike is a brilliant and turbulent bassist that unfortunately, like many bassists plays second fiddle or guitar in this case to the wild guttural impact from bad ass guitarists. I think bassists are the sexiest members of any band and King Mike is certainly no exception to this rule ;-)
It’s not fair – Nope it’s not. I actually said these words the other day in regards to basically all my dramarama to a therapist and as soon as I said it, I was like ‘Wow’, that’s a really angsty, adolescent and selfish thing to say. Weirdly it helped immensely to put things into perspective for me; Life isn’t really fair for anyone. To quote Margret Mitchell through her character Ashley from Gone with the Wind; ‘Life is under no obligation to give us what we want, we take what we get and are grateful it’s no worse than it is’. This song is really short and probably my least favorite on the album, it’s not by any means a bad track, it’s just not as remarkable as every other song on the album.
Criminal Image – This song is really fun for me because I have a misheard lyric. I actually don’t know what the proper lyric is but unless Paternoster is a huge Battlestar fan then I think I have it wrong with ‘You’re a cylon, everything I want’. Man I hate those fracking skin job lovers! It’s a great song to close on, even if I can’t un-hear it’s BSG themes.
Rose Mountain was recorded in 2014 and released on Don Giovanni Records in February of this year 2015. It was produced by Matt Bayles who has worked with Minus the Bear, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
Screaming Females are Marissa Paternoster, King Mike and Jarrett Dougherty and they are from New Brunswick, New Jersey. They are nearly done with their European tour but there are some shows left, so if you get the chance, definitely check them out.
I am away next week. I am venturing North to see my Grandmother…whitewalkers be damned!
I’ll catch you the week after.
Thank so much for reading.