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Makin Waves Record of the Week: Screaming Females' 'All at Once'


By Bob Makin

originally published: 02/15/2018

Makin Waves Record of the Week: Screaming Females' 'All at Once'Screaming Females return next week with “All at Once,” their seventh studio LP for Don Giovanni Records, and a celebratory three-night stand at Jersey City’s Monty Hall.

New Brunswick’s Screaming Females are the only band I’ve ever heard whose albums continually top the predecessor, which is no easy feat for the forthcoming “All at Once” because 2015’s “Rose Mountain” was brilliant. Even more challenging, the Feb. 23 release on Don Giovanni Records consists of 15 songs that translate into a double album on vinyl. While the lengthy sequence of surreal snippets and sprawling guitar epics takes some getting used to compared to the bullet to the brain and heart fired from “Rose Mountain,” the Screamales once again have succeeded in maintaining an unprecedented artistic trajectory with their seventh studio LP since 2006.

While “Rose Mountain” often dug for precious metal, “All at Once” mines a surprising amount of classic rock, including Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Patti Smith. The imaginatively expansive outing also boasts one of their best and prettiest songs ever, “Bird in Space,” a poetic tribute to modernist Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. Among the many impressive and enjoyable nuances on “All at Once” are Paternoster’s poppy coo beneath the ringing ‘70s-inspired guitar solo in the break of the standout track.

I also absolutely love the ‘60s-style psych-pop of “Chamber for Sleep Pt. 1.” With a tinny organ and trippy layers of vocals, “Chamber” just might convert early Pink Floyd enthusiasts into Screaming Females fans, especially the closing compliment of stormy guitar wash and whimsical, chiming keys that segue directly into “Pt. 2.” The suicidal prog-rock take on an isolated Nirvana groove contains one of the LP’s strongest lyrics: “How do you hang this heaven over me, nail me to the bed."

Other tracks are:



 
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 Makin Waves Record of the Week: Screaming Females' 'All at Once'

Screaming Females will tour the U.S. and Europe through May in support of their next album, “All at Once,” to be released Feb. 23 on Don Giovanni Records. PHOTO COURTESY OF SCREAMING FEMALES

 

While “Rose Mountain” dealt with pain involved in Paternoster's career-stalling battle with mononucleosis, “All at Once” seems to be about existing in own’s skin either via someone making you feel better about that or by getting comfortable with discomfort. Both variations are explored, such as in “Soft Domination” – “Tell me you'll lift me up. Tell me you'll take me out of this place ...” -- and “Fantasy Lens” – “should I lay with my head bowed down exist in exits. But where, where can I exist. Where can I let the ghost in ...” Themes of faith, family, fragility, futility and freedom also are expressed in a haunting and often unsettling way, sometimes tamed by crafty song structure but often designed to rage like the demons that inspired them.     

I look forward to hearing these tracks live during Screaming Females’ celebratory three-night stand Feb. 22 to 24 at Jersey City’s Monty Hall, where opening acts respectively will include Teenage Halloween, Snakeskin and Spowder. The industrious trio then will tour the country and Europe through May with other area dates on April 5 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia and April 6 at Market Hotel in Brooklyn, both with Thou and Hirs.  

Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at makinwaves64@yahoo.com. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.



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