Screaming Females

Ugly

Written by: PP on 14/08/2012 17:52:07

Like their name suggests, Screaming Females are a female fronted rock band from New Brunswick, who aren't afraid to get loud and obnoxious despite their vocalist's gender. They've been receiving plenty of mainstream attention lately thanks to a retro-fitted garage rock sound that speaks to the masses of hipsters lurking amongst our community, one that's weird, quirky and underground enough to fit their ideals - complete with a vintage type sound - but not really all that experimental in the end.

Essentially, the band take an indie rock-flavored garage platform and embed it with subdued 70s undertones from punk icons like Sex Pistols and The Clash. There's a sense of rebellion to their singer's purposefully borderline off-tune voice, which is probably a love/hate sort of thing for most people. Personally I find her croons annoying and halfway amateurish, though, but fortunately the band rescues some points home through a vivid usage of distortion in various forms. The guitars screech, the solos are quirky, the raw bass is funky, and the overall mood has an unpolished garage tone to it to the point that many songs sound like lo-fi versions of The Strokes with a terrible singer instead. That is, if The Strokes drew from the 70s punk movement for distant inspiration.

On some songs, such as "Rotten Apple", this approach works devilishly well, though. It's a catchy little track that successfully blends together quirky indie, lo-fi garage, and retro rock in a way that works really well despite being off-tune and leaning heavily on unusual melody lines. Similarly, the semi-aggressive punk piece "Tell Me No" is great because it sees Screaming Females bring their 70s influence to the forefront of the sound and allows the band to explode out of their instruments with its high tempo and confrontational stance, where on many other tracks this influence is more subdued and passes as a mere undertone on their overall sound. But "Ugly" simply doesn't have enough tracks like these. Many, like "Red Hand" and "Extinction", are too off-tune and, yes, ugly in their composition to appeal, which is why the skip button has become a necessity when listening to the album. I get what Screaming Females are trying to do here, but it could be executed much better, and as such "Ugly" comes across as a little too weird and quirky. You could argue that their singer is what gives the band their identity, but she just isn't a very good singer, which is a major downside throughout the album.

Download: Rotten Apple, Crow's Nest, Tell Me No
For the fans of: Lo-fi The Strokes, Terrible Feelings, Shellshag, Pixies
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 03.04.2012
Don Giovanni Records

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