When I first saw Screaming Females around five or six years ago, I wasn't sure what I was in for. I went to it not having heard the band and only based on people saying things like, "You like guitar music—you should go to this." And lo and behold, it was incredible. I remember very few things about the show, like who else played, but I do remember that the stage was dominated by the authoritative shredding of the somewhat diminutive guitarist/singer Marissa Paternoster. I only bring up her height because the contrast added oomph to the already oomph-laden set. On few occasions in my roughly 40 years can I remember seeing a rock guitarist who could play leads and rhythm and hold everything down while also blazing effortlessly and artfully. Usually, at some point early in the set, I think something like, "Ugh, what's with this wanking? Are you showing off or playing a song?" Not so with Screaming Females. It's as tasteful as it is virtuosic and that's a hard balance for guitar players to strike.
The last record they released, 2015's Rose Mountain, is a crunchy romper in which the great guitar soloing is largely subdued compared with the New Jersey band's 2012 Ugly, whose songs seemed to have more of the excellent hot-dogging that I loved live. Rose Mountain is a strong record, and I think a fine representation of what they're about. However, to see and hear this band live is to appreciate them, so I recommend doing that, too.
Screaming Females play the Union Hall Thu., Oct. 12, at 9 PM, along with Street Eaters, Mossmouth and Magpies. $12/$10 advance.