New Brunswick, New Jersey's Screaming Females have a terrible band name. I feel vaguely embarrassed whenever I say it out loud, as if I'm talking about a raunchy exploitation flick or something. But a band's name never matters if the music is good enough, and on every track of the rambunctious trio's Singles (Don Giovanni), due February 9, guitarist-singer Marissa Paternoster, drummer Jarrett Dougherty, and bassist King Mike whip up a giddy punk rock frenzy.
Paternoster's guitar playing is the first thing you'll notice. On tracks like the choogling "Arm Over Arm" and head-bobbingly insolent "I Do" she churns out thick chord riffs that nod at classic punk but add a bouncy rhythmic flair. Then she'll stop and pick out a chiming single note passage or spiraling solo. She plays like she's listened to all the best garage rock singles, half-forgotten what she heard, and came up with better stuff when she tried to play the songs back from memory.
Her singing is good too: Strident, with a smartly deployed vibrato and a healthy dash of sneering attitude that makes a line like "I dig on calculus," from "I Do" sound like a warning. And if Dougherty and King Mike don't quite match their frontwoman, they complement her just about perfectly--check out the almost tribal groove they cook up on an almost unrecognizable version of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." It's just a fun, fun record. Now about that name.
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