Discovering a Band: Screaming Females

I was playing with my son last night when he grabbed the headphones off my desk and asked to “Listen to the musics, Daddy!” in his little two year old drawl. Usually this means that I put on a house music mix or flip through some random drum & bass MP3s. Instead I decided to bring up Youtube and introduce him to something new. I opted for the Iron Horse bluegrass cover of Rocket Man and he was thoroughly mesmerized.

Unsatisfied with one song the kiddo wanted more…so down the rabbit hole we went. Since he liked bluegrass I clicked on a cover of Thunderstruck by Steve ‘n’ Seagulls. He was pretty uninterested in that, but in the sidebar was SnG’s cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage on the AV Club’s Undercover music series. The premise is that they invite a band in and they get to pick a list of songs to cover. Many of the covers are really good. A few are poignant or silly or fun. Like Iron and Wine covering GWAR’s Sick of You.

Further down the AV Club’s list I saw a band that I’d never heard of, Screaming Females, covering Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. I don’t really care for Ms. Swift or her music, but I thought what the hell…let’s give this cover a shot.

So the Screaming Females took an uninteresting sugar pop standard and transformed it into their own unique, jam-inspired punk rock rendition. Immediately the band’s tiny (yet mighty) lead singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster stood out. She has a remarkable yodel-like vibrato vocal (trust me it works) and is a masterful guitar player. Her voice hinges somewhere between Stevie Nicks and Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta and as for the guitar playing? Well she’s considered Spin Magazine’s 77th greatest guitarist of all time. Impressive young lady.

At this point my kiddo had had enough music for the night and ran off, but that’s not Screaming Females fault. He’s only two and an early bed time drew him away.

I, however, was now fascinated by this New Jersey punk trio. I decided to give 2015’s Rose Mountain, and their 2012 effort Ugly a run. Right off the bat I was sucked in by Ripe, Hopeless, and It All Means Nothing. Then without hesitation I pulled out my wallet and bought both albums.

If you’ve made it this far and like what you hear then you can watch this charming two part profile by Lance Bangs over at Noisey. They talk about tour life, their prolific schedule, and Marissa’s illness. Oh, and it features their kickass cover of the Misfits’ Where Eagles Dare at the end of part one.

So yea…after a few clicks and several hours I’d discovered a new band and bought two albums. All precipitated by my son’s desire to, “Listen to the musics, Daddy!”

It was a good day.

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