The first time I saw Screaming Females was 2009 at The Parlor in Austin, a small, narrow pizza place that sends gusts of warm pizza dough wind into the venue every time the oven is opened. Within five minutes of their set, guitarist and singer Marissa Paternoster ripped into her first solo.
Her fingers climbed furiously up and down the neck of her guitar like she was trying to put out a fire. Her voice was this wondrous mix of high vibrato and low tension, a rubber band stretched almost to the breaking point. I went out and found everything I could by them, which, at that point, already consisted of three albums.
Fast forward to 2012, and the New Jersey trio, rounded out by drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist Mike Abbate, have just released their fifth full-length, Ugly, on Don Giovanni Records. It was produced by Steve Albini, and sounds a bit more polished than previous albums, but retains that tightly wound, shred-reverent edge. I caught up with Paternoster as they drove from San Jose to Los Angeles.