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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Screaming Females has more to prove with ‘Chalk Tape’


    Few bands live up to their name like Screaming Females do. Led by singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster’s mighty howl and formidable playing chops, Screaming Females have released a remarkable six-year run of indie punk music that culminated in 2012’s excellent Ugly.

    The band has something of a penchant for weird chord changes and time signatures, but bands of their ilk tend to run out of ideas after the fourth or fifth release. As the new EP Chalk Tape deftly proves, Screaming Females still have more left in the chamber.

    The record begins with “Sick Bed,” a track with a drum beat that anchors Paternoster’s operatic vocals within a thick wall of fuzz. It’s a breathtaking way to start an EP, particularly when considered with the ambient electronic noise that both opens and closes the track.

    The second song, “Crushing The Kingdom,” is a bit easier to put your finger on, with the band settling on a straightforward punk speed and treatment that does little to improve on the kinds of tracks they’ve put out in the past. The song’s saving grace comes in the form of an apoplectic guitar solo courtesy of Paternoster that is over almost as soon as it begins.

    Screaming Females’ passion for heavier sounds is better exemplified in the knockout track “Wrecking Ball,” which matches the low-key, almost atonal verse with an electrifying chorus that finds Paternoster screaming the song title at the top of her lungs.

    The band also tosses in an avant-punk breakdown a la The Stooges’ “L.A. Blues” or early Sonic Youth for good measure, succinctly proving that Screaming Females are in little danger of getting stale.

    It would be tough for any band to follow a dynamite track like “Wrecking Ball,” but the Screaming Females make a go at it with “Poison Arrow.” With its driving bass line and shimmering lead guitar work, “Poison Arrow” sounds oddly Interpol-ish at times, but quickly develops into an all-out jam. Though “Poison Arrow” doesn’t quite rank among Screaming Females’ best, it’s a pleasant enough addition to the already spectacular EP.

    The only song on Chalk Tape that seems at all superfluous is “Into The Sun,” a track that begins with an unfortunate tropically-influenced beat and proceeds to do little else. While not an exceptionally bad track, “Into The Sun” hardly compares with the likes of “Wrecking Ball” or Chalk Tape’s stupendous closer, the rousing “Green Vapors,” in terms of concept. “Green Vapors” ends the EP on a high note, combining fast, crunchy guitars with perfectly placed boy/girl vocals that leave listeners wanting more.

    All in all, a worthy return from one of last year’s best indie punk acts.

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