Screaming Females’ first two self-released albums went largely unnoticed outside of New Brunswick, N.J., but the band burst forth with Power Move (the most aptly named album of the year), released through local independent Don Giovanni. The raw energy of their live shows, which frequently feature singer/guitar shredder Marissa Paternoster playing so ferociously that her fingers bleed all over the fretboard, sent them headfirst into opening slots for Dinosaur Jr. and The Dead Weather. Not an inauspicious way to start the year.
With all this acclaim, Don Giovanni has released four now-rare 7-inches in one collection: Singles. Among the standouts is “Zoo of Death,” originally released in summer 2006, features a surf-like guitar line in the verses that blasts full-speed into a great sing-along chorus, with bridge toward the end featuring the shredding Paternoster is becoming famous for. The collection also includes a cover of Neil Young’s classic “Cortez the Killer” (it was originally featured on a split with Hunchback in 2008), and they speed up the song, highlighting the intensity contained in the original. Young actually provides a nice comparison in guitar styles; Paternoster has that loose, schizophrenic feel to her playing that Young captures on his best tracks with Crazy Horse.
For all the guitar acrobatics, not enough is said about the rhythm section. Bassist King Mike and drummer Jarrett Dougherty keep it simple, providing a thumping stomp and constant, forward motion rhythm for the guitar to dance all over and around. A perfect example of this is “No Being Disgusting,” which highlights the two male members of band during the verses, letting them lay down the foundation for the roar of Paternoster’s voice and guitar to come barreling over the top.
Usually, these type of collections are for enthusiasts only – a historical document on the growth of band. What’s amazing on Singles is that the earliest material, the first tracks the band ever recorded in a studio, sound as fresh and exciting as the songs the band is releasing currently.