Whether you’re aware of it or not, Screaming Females are a force to be reckoned with. With seven full-length releases, a compilation, and live recordings, the band’s musical life has been fruitful. A punked-up power trio whose angular rock is pretty inspiring. Frontwoman Marissa Paternoster has stepped out on her own with the new Peace Meter (Don Giovanni) which shows another side of her musical prowess. The bittersweet opener “White Dove,” takes a different approach here. It’s morose as her voice shakes alongside that steady mid-tempo and acoustic guitar, embellished with electric guitars. It’s haunting and evocative. A future favorite is probably “I Lost You,” with its electric pulse, swirling guitars, and Marissa’s vocal inflection that’s as unique as they come. But it’s the gripping and atmospheric “Sore” that allows for stunning harmonies surrounding this massive track. Peace Meter has much to offer, and if you’re not convinced at this point, maybe listening to the keyboard-driven “Waste” will give you a change of heart. Guitars, propelled by a steady rhythm slowly crescendo until the song’s eventual end. It’s brilliant. Don’t take our word for it, listen for yourself.
Humor? You may rally around thoughts and ideas that some things shouldn’t be taken at face value or may just be completely tongue in cheek. But how do we justify any truth surrounding that? Well, when it comes to music, sometimes things aren’t always so black and white. Yet, they are black and white. Los Angeles’ ALL BITE delivers its full-length debut, Get Well Soon, but you have to wonder if any sympathy cards should be sent to the band directly. It might be reaching, but please pay attention.
Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Coppola, bassist/vocalist Emily Tomasi, and drummer/vocalist Noah Shearer, ALL BITE is adept at playing its instruments, and I’m referring to guitars and drums. “One Less Thing To Deal With” sets the tone of the album, the first track usually does that. There’s no clarity on who’s singing here, Shearer or Coppola, but vocally yes, it’s pretty bad. In honesty, we can all say it’s bad because it’s a lazy delivery, seemingly with no real attempt at matching clear melodies with the music that hits hard in dynamic shift, both acoustically and electrical. It has a melody that could have allowed the song a shimmering of greatness. But in all, it doesn’t work, and it fails. The band is punchy, filled with energy but Tomasi’s vocals on “Harvey Cedars” come across the same way, with an unbalanced display that refuses to match the music’s mastery. I’m left confused as the band seems capable of more.
ALL BITE shows promise with its quick spurts of “Tear Myself Apart,” “Partisan,” and “If You’re Like Me,” where songs range from 26 seconds to a minute and a half. Everything is on point and collectively in tune with melody, harmony & power, which makes things lopsided as a whole when the group regresses again on “Heroes.” It’s difficult to make sense of what’s going happening but fortunately, it ends directly into the fury of “Untitled” where once again, we get the sanity of abrasiveness we need as Tomasi’s words are matched by the pummeling sound the band offers. But we’ll just avoid “Preemptive Apology” altogether.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though with “Passion,” which moves in a couple of different speeds as Tomasi’s love loss lyrics are appealing with her delivery. As the band closes the album with “Alvarado,” there’s a 90s Minneapolis explosiveness that can’t be denied. There’s full musical coherence as ALL BITE grips onto every nuance of the song. And it’s perfect.
If the members of the ALL BITE were still in school, it would probably go without saying there would be at least one teacher telling them, “How dare you give me anything but your very best.” Musically, the band is on point, and Get Well Soon has strong enough bones that it could have been a great album, but it’s not. Musically, there are elements that could allow the group to reach its full potential. The band isn’t given direction from beginning to end, leaving the album unsymmetrical to the band’s detriment. ALL BITE is capable of doing so much more and I’m hoping that next time around, the members make me eat my words.
We’ve all patiently waited. No, sometimes things don’t come with unbiased opinions, instead, filling pages and binary codes with favoritism. It happens, we’re all fallible but some of us just don’t care. I discovered Legendary Divorce back in…2015(?) and haven’t looked back since. It opened up a world of Philly noise many haven’t been privy to. LD’s Make Me (Reptilian Records) led to Low Dose (Brutal Panda/Knife Hits) and later Rid Of Me. While the band has released singles and EPs, it finally delivers a full-length with Traveling (Knife Hits/The Ghost Is Clear). This is what we’ve been waiting for but what everyone wants to know is if the hype matches the band’s prowess. Considering the band is comprised of members of Fight Amp, Anxiety Spiral, Soul Glow, and the aforementioned Low Dose and Legendary Divorce, things do get real.
For the band’s new album, there are a couple of nods to PJ Harvey but Rid Of Me the band isn’t a carbon copy, it’s derivative only unto itself. There’s power and fury throughout the music, but it’s also found alongside dissonance & melody many of us haven’t heard in quite some time. The subtlety in the opening “Myself” is powerful, encapsulated with muted harmonies, and is thematically drenched with linear tones raining down. The band moves straight ahead, occasionally shifting volume levels but never making dynamic shifts. Instead, the group moves with flair and singularity through its sheer power. “23” is a somber affair and the melancholia surrounding vocalist/guitarist Itarya Rosenberg lyricism. Guitars and rhythm are punctuation marks around her words, edging off the brink of hope, and midway through the band allows space for those thick bass notes to poignantly lead the way. This is possibly one of the best songs ever written this year, if not throughout time itself. Musically it’s imaginative in its sparseness and is completely haunting.
It’s when the band creeps slowly where it’s at its most powerful. “Fun” delivers slight dynamic shifts but the stabbing guitar notes make way for the emotive backing vocals that quickly vanish as Rid Of Me wails! Instruments collide against one another, Itarya’s howling vocals are frightening yet inviting, and the song itself? Well, THIS is what we’ve waited for. That’s not to say the band doesn’t have anything else to offer when it’s moving at a frenetic pace; the anthemic “Spilling” has a lot to offer as well. Vocal & guitar melodies form as one but it’s the rhythm section that’s explosive before guitars shred into atmospheric delight while drums play the background to their majesty. Now if you weren’t aware, Rid Of Me embraces its heavy rock influences. With “Broke Shit,” arena rock-sized guitar chords are performed and meshed within the band’s interplay of loud, noisy punk. It’s clever; even with its brief solo, it can be heard. It’s here and we hear it.
Now with “Pit,” here the band takes liberty and its lead from Harvey and her title track. The band strums a sole guitar and Itarya’s delivery shows a similarity, but then Rid Of Me explodes in a fervor of instruments clashing, quieting down, and erupting volcanically again and again. The song is dirty, grimy to say the least when it’s not focused with just a guitar. And that’s fine, the band isn’t about prettying things up for its listeners.
Rid Of Me offers tension & melody with a healthy dose of cacophony throughout Traveling and there’s a LOT more throughout the album you’ll find yourself enraptured within. This album is easily one of the noisiest and best new releases offered up this year.