Screaming Females: All At Once
New Jersey’s Screaming Females are easily one of the best and most consistent rock bands of the last ten years. Each album of theirs is a definitive, fully-formed statement of indie punk rock, and their latest opus All At Once keeps up that tradition. As a band, they are absolutely the full package: wonderfully crafted guitar riffs, emotionally-resonant, heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics, rhythmic post-punk bass flourishes, catchy, brilliantly produced songs, and of course, singer Marissa Paternoster’s galvanizing vocals. They offer something for everyone. And yet, they are one of the most underrated bands out there.
Opening track “Glass House” is a perfect intro song that starts out slowly and builds behind a thrashy noise breakdown that alternates with Paternoster singing about oppression–her lyrics “you always control me” repeating and highlighting a sense of hopeless frustration. The chorus “My life in this glass house/Impossible to get out” is like a thesis statement for the rest of the record. “Agnes Martin” is an epic garage rock adrenaline blast with crunchy, atmospheric guitar lines and vibrant lyrics like “the sun always destroys me” underscoring the antagonism that the band is fighting against. What’s most impressive though is just how quickly the record oscillates between loud/fast and introspective/downbeat. The following song “Deeply,” for instance, is a heartfelt ballad with so many instrumental subtleties: stripped down percussion, melodic keyboards, and poignant lyrics about being forgotten and taken for granted. This album sees the band fighting against a lot of suppressive forces. But most importantly, they are fighting for their voice to be heard–a notion that a band as underrated as them completely understands.
What makes Screaming Females such an amazing band is their ability to combine lush sonic genius with unbelievably catchy songwriting. All At Once simply cements their legacy: they are one of the very best bands of our generation.
Turnstile: Time & Space
Hardcore punk band Turnstile’s second album Time & Space marks a brilliant sonic evolution for the Baltimore group. The band is still punk to its core, though the album’s dense production, off-kilter songwriting, and its slew of awesome psychedelic and R&B instrumental interludes sets it apart from the band’s earlier work. Producer Will Yip, whose credits include albums by Title Fight, Code Orange, and La Dispute, corrals together the band’s diverse blend of hardcore, thrash punk, abrasive noise, and post-metal riffings into a record that is biting, confrontational, and bursting with unabashed passion and angst.
Frontman Brendan Yates, whose guttural, high-pitched yelps remind one of the vocal stylings of Zack De La Rocha and Perry Ferrell, absolutely unleashes on opening track “Real Thing,” a call-to-arms punk single that sets the rest of the album in motion. The grinding, thudding bass lines on “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” provide the set-up for a melodic pop-punk single that is equal parts raw and catchy. “Can’t Get Away,” meanwhile, is a more anthemic power rock stomper, and “Moon” is a bleak thrash song with a vocal assist from Sheer Mag singer Tina Halladay. And the calm R&B interludes “Bomb” and “Disco” provide artsy flourishes that heighten the album’s scope and emotion.
Turnstile’s Time & Space is post-hardcore executed with a remarkable level of artistry. Even Diplo is down with them (he produced the frenetically dizzy track “Right To Be”).
Alpha Pup is one of the defining independent record labels in Los Angeles, having helped revolutionize the beat scene over ten years ago alongside such renowned producers as Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing. The label’s latest release comes from hip-hop producer God.Damn.Chan of Portland, Maine. Slush is a deep and groovy record with a palette of sounds like a tripped-out Atari video game, softened by slower, drawn-out psychedelic textures. Compared to the bulk of Alpha Pup releases, Slush is decidedly more laid-back and lounge-y, featuring jazz samples and trap fixings that give it a distinct soundtrack vibe.
“Melt” is a delicate, ethereal track with bubbling chimes over vibrant hip-hop beats. “To My Friends” is smooth and chilled-out, with glitchy, rhythmic percussion and heavy basslines that keep it grooving to the max. The relaxing horns and piano notes that Chan delivers on “Groovybby” represent the jazziest vibes on the record, while the song “Smoke Break” is its most intense. The minimal trap beats build and escalate and are reminiscent of the type of clangy, disorienting sounds of the PC Music roster and TNGHT. Slush is yet another triumph for a label that is consistently putting out dynamic releases by like-minded beat producers.
The Regrettes: Attention Seeker EP
The Regrettes made a big splash last year with their debut album Feel Your Feelings Fool, a mix of Riot Grrl-grunge, power pop and garage punk that was an instant hit with the SoCal Burger Records-adjacent scene. Their follow-up EP Attention Seeker feels like just a small taste of what the band still has cooking.
17-year-old singer-guitarist Lydia Night is years beyond her age, with a booming voice full of sarcasm and attitude that is the crux of the band’s style. Opening track “Come Through” isn’t a break-up song per se, but rather an anti-love song brimming with clarity and feminist punk sneer, with Night repeating the chorus “don’t need you” with gleeful self-confidence. “Red Light” is a faster pop-punk track with old school garage vibes, and the last new song on the record, “A Teenager In Love” is a slow-burning, insightful rock ballad touching on romantic regret and uncertainty. It is vulnerable and soul-bearing almost sounds like a punk doo-wop song. The final two tracks, meanwhile, are solid acoustic re-workings of their past hits “Hey Now” and “A Living Human Girl.” 2018 is set to be a huge year for the young L.A. band, and Attention Seeker is a nifty preview of what they have in store.