Screaming Females - All at Once - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Screaming Females - All at Once

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:2018-02-23
Screaming Females - All at Once
Screaming Females - All at Once

Just so you know, Marissa Paternoster has an incredibly wonderful voice.

And this is a good old-fashioned hard rock album, the kind that has disappeared from the record racks. Of course, those record racks (and the stores themselves) also vanished for a while; but thankfully, they are back and this double vinyl release, All at Once, is the perfect remedy for those of us who long for good music shops and melodic hard-rocking albums. And this one’s cover is pretty cool, too.

Screaming Females follow in the proud tradition of so many great rock bands like Cream, Stray, Thin Lizzy, Trapeze, and Taste who played hard, passionate, melodic music. The first song, “Glass House,” has all the classy drama of Cream’s “White Room.” Then “Black Moon” stakes out the band’s territory: They create a tidal wave of sound, then quell the dynamics, only to explode, once again with the force of Jarrett Dougherty’s drumming, King Mike’s bass, and Marissa Paternoster’s guitar, to conjure a tsunami of sound that is just pure and simple sonic pleasure. “I’ll Make You Sorry” ups the ante as the tune erupts in mid-song with a gigantic guitar solo that pulses the grooves into overdrive.

This isn’t stoner rock. Now, I really like a band like Kadavar, but they create an aura in which melodies exist. This music is crystal clear with great songs. In fact, this entire record is about the songs and the dramatic presentation of those songs. And there really isn’t anything punk about this record, except, perhaps, the exuberance of the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love,” the power of The Clash’s “Safe European Home,” or the big guitar sound of The Skids’ “Circus Games.”

“Agnes Martin” evokes the sound of (my beloved) Budgie, a Welsh trio who played blistering (and sometimes quite sensitive) guitar rock. In fact, Marissa Paternoster’s vocals actually recall the sound of Budgie’s Burke Shelley. For an even more obscure reference, let’s say the vocals recall the greatness of David Surkamp, the lead singer for Pavlov’s Dog.

The ace in the band’s card game, though, is the slow-paced “Deeply.” This one just takes it own time as it cascades into the many shades of sound. It’s really a nice song.

Years ago, my local bar was called The Pack and Hounds Pub. For a couple of dollars, I could listen to great music of a Saturday night with bands like Short Stuff, Atlantic Mine, and Sweet Dreams. There was a band called Tough Knox who somehow managed a Midwestern tour. I liked the band. They played their own stuff, with the exception of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” and Spooky Tooth’s “Better by You, Better Than Me.” When they played for a second time, I talked to the guitarist who told me that RCA was interested and there’d be an album soon.

But as Creedence’s John Fogerty sang, “Someday Never Comes.”

So, this album sort of rescues all the music of great groups who never were able to keep the interest of the big record companies. Screaming Females pour their life blood into the record, and yet this is a band that could still be found at the bar down the street, which will always be the heartbeat of rock music. It’s a cause for celebration when a band cuts the record it sincerely wants to make.

There are so many other great songs. “Soft Domination” has deep grooves. “End of My Bloodline” is slow and spooky. The two-part “Chamber for Sleep Part One &Two” extends through the catchy initial song, morphs into a chaotic spacey bit, and then returns with a rock ‘n’ roll coda. I really love those two-part songs. (My beloved) Budgie ended their album Bandolier with “Napoleon Bona-Part One” and“Napoleon Bona-Part Two.” This is almost as good.

“Bird in Space” has an Eastern vibe, and it reminds me of yet another great hard rock trio, Strife, who sadly named their first album Rush and have garnered bad internet press for years because fans of Geddy & Company order the record thinking it’s somehow an unreleased follow-up to Farewell to Kings, or something like that.

That’s a shame because it’s a pretty good album.

And it’s also sad that the last time I saw Tough Knox at The Pack and Hounds Pub, the guitarist was really sullen; there were no new songs, and he shoved his guitar into the ceiling tiles of the stage. There were broken ceiling bits and metal everywhere. He really wrecked the place.

I didn’t talk to him that night. But I knew that RCA just wasn’t interested anymore. And that broken ceiling was just shattered rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Their own songs, and the covers of “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Better by You, Better Than Me,” would never be committed to tape. They never played The Pack and Hounds again.

This album ends with the short “Drop by Drop” which gives way to “Step Outside,” the entrenched guitar finale that pays homage to the past, a past that needs to resurrect itself in the excited grooves of a record, from time to time, just to prove that our world, even after all these years, still likes to be rocked every once in a while.

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