Note For Note: Screaming Females, XNY 

Girls just want to rage, or something along those lines.

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Screaming Females
Ugly
Don Giovanni Records

★★½

This sludge-punk trio from Jersey, led by Marissa Patermoster, are, in short, annoying. But they are also riff-savvy, if slightly irksome. "Rotten Apple," a clunky anthem with a solo that would make Billy Corgan blush, is their ethos and a microcosm for the entirety of their fifth album. Patermoster's vocals go in and out of tune as she sings about what gets her down in the mouth or pissed off (or both); her muddy guitar pushes the tempo to its limit, and drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist King Mike simply play catch-up.

There are elements to respect and enjoy sprinkled throughout the record, such as the twisted surf-pop sound of "Expire," or the almost-pop gleam of "Crows Nest," which finds the band at their most melodic. But from the overly long "Doom 84," that's progressive and forgettable, until the second-to-last song (a total of four plodding tunes), the music becomes stagnant and refuse to budge. And while the acoustic finale "It's Nice" lives up to its title and serves as a welcome relief from the monotony of the record's choppy songwriting and 68-minute running time, it comes in too late to stick. They may want to sound Ugly , which is their right, but do they have to take their sweet time in doing so?

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XNY
Through the Wall
Self-Released

★★

Their debut album's title is a reference to how guitarist/vocalist Pam Autuori and drummer Jacob Schreiber would practice while they were neighbors in the Boston area, while their band name is an obvious testament to the varying musical elements going on, often in a single song. Autuoi's mixes Tori Amos-y vocals with the acoustic chops of Ani Difranco and the yelp of Alanis Morissette, and Schreiber's drums go toe-to-toe with her intensity. But while I hear this duo's mix of twisted indie-folk, I don't feel it. Their arrangements are too jagged, their melodies too scattershot and their lyrics too vague. Yet they show what they're capable of on "Make Me," a pop ditty that bumps along and has the honor of being the most cohesive song on the record. For a band whose best moments come when they keep things simple, I'm perplexed as to why they don't use simplicity more often.

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Jon is also the founding editor of the pop culture blog PopTometry.

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