Screaming Females

Rose Mountain

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After making a pair of albums with Steve Albini behind the controls that emphasized the band's lean, powerful attack, Screaming Females have aimed for a change-up on 2015's Rose Mountain. On their sixth full-length album, Screaming Females were seemingly shooting for a beefed-up sound by teaming with producer and engineer Matt Bayles, whose résumé includes projects with Mastodon, Isis, and Pearl Jam. And it is true that Rose Mountain sounds noticeably bigger and fuller than Screaming Females' work with Albini, but thankfully, it doesn't sound particularly slicker; Bayles does wonders for Michael Abbate's bass tone, and he locks in with Jarrett Dougherty's drums with impressive accuracy and impact, but it's Marissa Paternoster who benefits most. Paternoster's guitar work is straightforward but effectively fills out the melodic space with her thick, buzzy tone, and her vocals are excellent on these sessions, more nuanced and dynamic than before but with enough passion to match the striking force of the music. Rose Mountain sounds more like a rock album than what the group has delivered before, and in this context, that's a compliment; this is the sort of music that gives the phrase "power trio" a good name, with the musicians bringing their fair share to the performances without getting in one another's way, and Rose Mountain is dominated by full-bodied and emotionally powerful music that doesn't overplay its hand. Without cashing in the indie rock sound that defined them in the past, Screaming Females have gone out of their way to show they have other tricks at their disposal, and Rose Mountain is one of their most accomplished and satisfying efforts to date.

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