Screaming Females album review: ‘Ugly’

April 5, 2012
SCREAMING FEMALES
“Ugly”

Kindred spirits: Dinosaur Jr., Sleater-Kinney

Show: With Laura Stevenson and the Cans on Sunday at the Black Cat. Doors open at 8 p.m. 202-667-7960. www.blackcatdc.com . $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

The Post’s pop music critic, Chris Richards, recently wrote that the SXSW music festival is one of the best places to have your faith in rock-and-roll restored. But if you couldn’t make it to Austin and still need a reason to believe in rock music again, look no further than New Jersey’s Screaming Females, whose fifth album, “Ugly,” cements the band’s status as one of the finest purveyors of the form.

At the center of the trio is Marissa Paternoster, a frontwoman equally adept at unleashing the face-melting fretboard work and sinuous vocals that give the songs an endearingly rambunctious quality. She really comes into her own on this album, raising the killer riff quotient and cramming bratty sneering and quivering howls into every vocal line.

As an album, “Ugly” is kind of all over the place but in the best possible sense — wonderfully mussed and messy. Mixed in with the tightly wound garage rock of such songs as “It All Means Nothing,” “Rotten Apple” and “Help Me” is the foreboding, bass-heavy “Red Hand,” the apocalyptic prog of “Doom 84” and the shimmering orchestral embellishments of album-closer “It’s Nice.” It’s not the most cohesive album ever, but there’s little doubt that all of it rocks.

Brandon Weigel

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