Screaming Females’ Castle Talk

26 Aug

Screaming Females
Thursday, Aug. 26th
Replay Lounge, 21+

Screaming Females will be returning to Lawrence exactly three months later from their show earlier this spring at the Replay in order to promote their upcoming album, Castle Talk, which marks their fourth full-length release to date. The show in May was pretty fantastic, not only because it made me realize how much I overlooked King Mike’s bass parts when it comes to their sound, which Marissa Paternoster ensures to pack a heavy punch, but also because watching Paternoster play & sing live is enough to bring tears to my eyes. The integrity of Screaming Females’ live sound remains such that it’s almost as if the tracks are playing over the PA, but with more ferocity and bite. And you gotta love a band that plays a killer encore for a crowd of some twenty people.

Castle Talk, which blasts outta Don Giovanni’s rock womb on Sept. 14th, is currently available for pre-order on Insound, and if you get it now, you can nab a free Screamales poster as well. All pre-orders also come with an MP3 download of the album so that you can listen to it as soon as you make your purchase. Highly recommended.

Order Castle Talk for a measly $9.99


Track by Track Review

1. Laura and Marty

A pretty menacing intro rolls into a brisk bassline and steady beat as Paternoster’s calculated notes throw down the pavement for her mighty vocal range to run upon. Besides displaying the wonderful quality of the recorded vocals (crystal clear with a healthy touch of reverb), the track also reminds listeners of the band’s great songwriting control–capable of keeping it subdued but interesting, and knowing when to let go and burn hard, which they demonstrate after the second verse by finally bringing in the chorus, and then letting their instruments ring loud and free. After this, Paternoster launches into a twenty five second guitar solo, which I’m not really sure is necessary, but then again, when is a guitar solo ever necessary? The woman squeezes three times as many arpeggios in that interim than anyone else in her age bracket, that’s for damn sure, almost to the point of distraction by nature of being so badass.

2. I Don’t Mind It

The first single off the new album not only tones it down a notch but also adds a proper serving of pop next to Paternoster’s tasty distortion and expressive couplets. The rhythm of King Mike’s bassline holds this track’s head up high and proud, even when the Paternoster busts out a terse guitar solo for the outro. Once again, the front woman’s skillful timing works to the benefit of the overall musical composition–by knowing when to hold notes out and when to let them flood, she works out a balanced chemistry between herself and the rhythm section. On the other hand, the snare barely ekes out over the rest of the crew and at times the drums almost sound like they are just there to keep time.

3. Boss

In this track, the band takes a sensitive approach to feeling subordinated, coming into the song with a slow-release–drums setting the tempo for a somber bass, which is then layered with a wailing guitar that then goes into Paternoster’s signature guitar sound. However, when the vocals drop in, the distortion drops out in order to match the austerity of the rest of the song. In the second verse, there’s no guitar and instead the listener is left bobbing their head to the tambourine played in conjunction with the drum parts. In contrast with the beginning of the song, the end fades out a combination of all the instruments and a hook-worthy guitar riff.

4. Normal

It seems that swift fingers and strong lungs aren’t enough for the front-woman, because her rhymes are darkly dexterous as well. The chorus contains sarcasm so thick that it peels away as Paternoster sings, “I wouldn’t be surprised if no one wants to waste their time with me/I’m joyfully employed and normal.” The switches between effects also make for shuddering transitions within the guitar arrangement. I especially love the tail of oscillating bass note that Paternoster latches onto the very end of the chorus. The stark musical contrast between the chorus and the bridge creates an atmosphere of withheld rage that then builds up and brims over before the song ends. The brevity and beat make this one of the catchiest tracks off the record.

5. A New Kid

Hands-down my favorite song–all I could think was, “Fuck,” when I first listened to it. With its merciless hooks and engaging composition, it tells the story of a newcomer who has overstayed his welcome. Paternoster reaches record-high levels of creepy with her lyrics–“If I invite you over can you look me in the eye?/Because your head is a cavern and I want to crawl inside/I put some speakers in your ears and I stuff up where you sleep/You’ve got a whole lot of nerve to think that you can fool me” and “Let me travel up your brains, hang my image in your skull/So I can be the gizzard(?) in your nightmares from now on”–while hazy guitars and lolling bass torridly circle one another before switching from a stagnant mood into a frenzied chorus. The guitar solo after the second verse is especially driven and forceful, blending in nicely with the subsequent riff.

6. Fall Asleep

Not to be outdone by the previous track, this song’s appeal profits from a cruising bass and a diverse guitar sound that switches between psychedelic and grunge. Not forgetting to throw in a helpful dose of skillful guitar picking during the chorus, Paternoster keeps it slamming in the last minute with another lively solo before throwing down notes befitting of a metal musician. I can’t get over this bassline though, which makes the heavy tones surprisingly danceable.

7. Wild

If there’s one anthem off of Castle Talk, it would be this track. A sensitive bassline matches an emotional, yet not delicate, guitar part and vocal melody. The build before the chorus makes for a great transition, and the bridge heightens the intensity of passion before flowing from chorus into a third verse that utilizes an alternate guitar melody, which is quite nice as well. I didn’t initially like this song as much as some others, but I found that it possesses a lot of replay value and gets stuck in my head a lot.

8. Nothing At All

I thoroughly enjoy the guitar riff that occupies the intro and chorus in this track, and it stands out from the sneakily unadorned verse. The drums sound pretty sweet too, with some cool tom action going on throughout the song. It’s nearly epic when Paternoster sings that she “want[s] to be your late night crisis lion” and the instrumental part that comes in toward the end of the song channels some serious late 60s rock n roll vibes.

9. Sheep

Got to appreciate a song that criticizes casual, unconcerned promiscuity–“You count sheep with anyone/Yeah anyone would do”–quite bluntly. I’m kind of interested by that weird “zipping” guitar noise that occurs in the intro and unsurprisingly excited by the sweet bassline near the last refrain of the chorus and generally by the different measure of rhythms King Mike uses throughout the song.

10. Deluxe

A solitary acoustic track with lots of reverb trails at the end of the album. I can’t figure out if this is a cover or not, but it sounds nice either way. It’s odd hearing Paternoster sing in a tone that’s much closer to her speaking voice.

11. Ghost Solo

Thundering, reverberating drums start out this song, which is a nice change of pace from all of the other guitar heavy intros that dominate most of the band’s songs. I love the guitar melody in the short bridge; the listener is also gifted with a psychedelic guitar solo afterward. Once again, Paternoster gratifies with her diverse guitarwork. The only thing that dismays me is that the album has now come to an end…hah.

photos © 2010 Mahsa Borhani, all rights reserved

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