Music Hall of Williamsburg
Screaming Females

Don Giovanni Records Showcase

Screaming Females

Laura Stevenson and the Cans, For Science, Shellshag, Black Wine

Sat, February 11, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$12 advance / $14 day of show

This event is 16 and over

Screaming Females
Screaming Females
Screaming Females had such a clear goal for their new album that it became almost a mantra: they wanted songs that were concise, crisp and melodic. That’s exactly what the New Jersey punk trio delivers on Rose Mountain, their sixth LP, due in February on Don Giovanni Records.

The album is a milestone in a number of ways. Not only does Rose Mountain reflect a new approach to the band’s songwriting, the LP marks the first time Screaming Females have worked with an outside producer, and comes as the trio celebrates 10 years together.

“I’m very pleased and proud of us as a band for playing together for so long,” says singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster, who formed Screaming Females in 2005 with bassist Michael Abbate and drummer Jarrett Dougherty.

Their longevity helped prompt the concise-crisp-melodic mantra for Rose Mountain. Although melody has always been a central part of the band’s music, the musicians have often layered them into massive thickets of interlocking sound on previous albums. They were ready to try something more streamlined with the 10 new songs on Rose Mountain.

“Our last three releases were dense musically,” Dougherty says. “This time, we tried to really hone in on what was important about the songs and get rid of what wasn’t important.”

The trio decided the vocal melodies were particularly important, and were careful to leave room for them while they were writing the new songs. “Before we got to that point where we had a complete, complex, intricate thing instrumentally, we stopped and said, ‘Let’s not finish this off, let’s let the vocals finish this off,’” Dougherty says.

The restraint they showed in writing the tunes didn’t affect the riveting intensity the band brought to playing them. You can hear it on “Empty Head,” the taut, lean album opener. It’s there in the interplay between serrated guitar and a buoyant bassline on “Triumph,” and in the airy verses that build into a tough, determined chorus on “Wishing Well.”

Many of the songs on Rose Mountain deal with Paternoster’s ongoing battle with chronic mononucleosis, which became so severe in 2012 that the band went on hiatus from touring for nearly a year. “I just could not get my act together,” Paternoster says. “We had to take time off, I couldn’t sleep, I wasn’t eating.”

Writing about the pain and uncertainty that accompanied her illness proved cathartic for Paternoster, who was already paying more attention to her lyrics than she did in the band’s earlier days.

“A lot of time it was just an afterthought, and I would just punch in whatever fit phonetically,” she says. “From playing hundreds of shows, I’ve realized that people do actually listen to the words. And if they’re going to take the time to listen to the words I’m singing, then I ought to take just as much time to write something that’s well thought-out.”

If leaving room for Paternoster’s vocal melodies was part of the band’s strategy for Rose Mountain, working with producer Matt Bayles was the other part. With a deeply rooted DIY streak, Screaming Females had self-produced their previous releases (with Steve Albini engineering their 2012 LP Ugly and the 2014 concert album Live at the Hideout) before overturning a long-standing, self-imposed rule and deciding it was time to bring in outside help. “What’s the best way to challenge yourself as an artist? Do something you told yourself you’d never do,” Dougherty says.

Bayles is perhaps best known for his work on albums by heavy metal acts like Mastodon and the Sword, which helped make Screaming Females confident in their choice: they figured he would be right at home with a loud, raucous band. Bayles joined the group in New Jersey to offer advice on composition before the musicians spent a month recording the album with Bayles in Seattle. They delved more deeply than ever before into the intricacies of guitar tones and drum sounds, and experimented with subtle touches that you wouldn’t expect on a Screaming Females album: listen for the organ buried beneath the terse guitars on “It’s Not Fair,” or the eerie, distorted tack-piano that brings the title track home.

“It’s definitely the most eclectic record in terms of instrumentation and dynamics that we have done to date,” Paternoster says.

It’s a fitting way to celebrate 10 years together, a period that has taken the band from playing basement shows in their hometown of New Brunswick to touring with the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and Garbage, who teamed with Screaming Females to record a cover of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night.” They’ve been featured on NPR and performed on Last Call With Carson Daly, building an audience without losing the focus and drive that inspired them in the first place.

“It’s pretty amazing that the three of us have been this committed this way,” Dougherty says, and Paternoster agrees.

“At the end of the day, what we really try to do is challenge ourselves musically, so that the three of us remain interested in this project we love very much,” she says. “Hopefully we can continue to do so and make music for as long as it’s feasible for us to do so.”

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Laura Stevenson and the Cans
Laura Stevenson and the Cans
Laura Stevenson was schooled in the traditional music of her grandfather and grandmother (composer of "The Little Drummer Boy" and vocalist for the Benny Goodman Orchestra respectively) from an early age. It wasn't until she started performing with Bomb The Music Industry in her teens, that she began writing on her own. Privately crafting songs on the softer side of indie rock and traditional folk, Stevenson was soon tapped as the band's opener and, with the addition of Mike Campbell and Alex Billig in 2007, Laura Stevenson and the Cans solidified. Their live band grew into a quintet, often times swelling to eight members, and the following debut LP, A Record, won them fans far and wide having been downloaded over 25,000 time since it's 2008 release.

Sit Resist, an album centered around never sitting stagnant, sees a matured band that has been continuously at work writing, arranging and touring for the past three years. Lyrically, Stevenson's pen has a sharp, poetic tone, making it impossible not to be taken in by her stories. Where A Record crackled with Stevenson's intimate voice alongside gentle acoustics, begging the listener nearer, Sit Resist commands the attention of all within earshot with its rich instrumentation and textured melodies.

Over the course of the album's thirteen songs, you'll hear the band weld a variety of musical styles that dreamily caress and nurture one another into a wholly unique rendering of Americana. "Master of Art" with its Phil Spector-esque, girl-group tease of an intro, explodes with the energy of Stevenson's voice - an instrument that is as strong as it is lovely. "Caretaker" conjures up ghosts and memories of homes inevitably / regrettably left behind. You'll find major-key resolution in the juxtaposed tale that is "The Healthy One," and "I See Dark" waltzes you, dear listener, into the lonely night, hand-in-hand.

The overall effect achieved by Laura Stevenson & the Cans is an album that's as invigorating and life-affirming as it is quietly emotional and delicate. This is an intelligent, literate album crafted of fragments of fleeting memories of time and place, yet it manages to convey volumes. Sit Resist is a true piece of art! Out now on Don Giovanni Records.
For Science
For Science
Shellshag
Shellshag
Theres only two people in Shellshag. Shell and Shag. Shell plays guitar and sings while Shag plays drums standing up and also sings. She has bells sewn on her belt and ankles, so there's lots of frantic wiggling to coax the noise out of them. They both sing into a mic stand they built themselves that's shaped like a Y, so they face each other while they play. They're known for putting on shows that bring the house down, sometimes literally. You can always expect some crowd surfing, things being thrown across the room, and the singing along that sometimes threatens to drown them out. The end of their show usually results in the two of them either building a sculpture out of their instruments, amps, and themselves, or completely smashing Shag's drums.

Shellshag run and own Starcleaner Records. They released their most recent record,"Rumors in Disguise," on Don Giovanni Records on Feb 9th 2010.
Black Wine
Black Wine
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/