These past few weeks have presented two different kinds of swarms: ladybugs, (there is literally one stuck in my hair as I type this,) and skinny attractive people carrying instrument cases who are here touring as part of the CMJ Music Marathon. It&amp;rsquo;s hard to choose which bands to leave the house for, but a few have such a loud buzz surrounding them that you feel compelled to go sniff them out for yourself. One of those bands is Brunswick, New Jersey's Screaming Females , who played a late-night set at the Mercury Lounge on October 21st. Screaming Females casts a somewhat humorous shadow as the band is fronted by a 4-foot lady wearing a red Sergeant Pepper style red dress, and a gigantic fuzzy-faced bass player. Before anything starts stirring, music wise, you would look at these two people and think, 'oh cute, that guy is probably shy and didn't want to sing for the band, so he asked his little sister to do it.' But then Marissa Paternoster starts singing, no, growling and screaming, before your now saucer-sized eyes, and you realize that she's not there to just 'look pretty,' she's there to eff you up and lay down some greasy guitar licks all over your face. Marissa no jokes plays the guitar like she made a deal with the devil himself to be able to do so. It's no wonder why Jack White likes this band so much; they both sound like they eat car parts for breakfast. Jersey style.
Opening for Screaming Females that night was Bear Hands. Bear Hands is an all dude band from Brooklyn who, to my ears, sound like a refreshing and fun mixture of old New Order and the Beach Boys. My favorite part of their set was when bassist/percussionist Val Loper alternated smoothly from bass to banging on the floor tom in front of him during a song. Watching this happen brought to mind those parties you may have been at in the past where your friends, after a few beverages, start pulling all of their instruments out of the closets and from under their beds. One minute you&amp;rsquo;re knuckle deep in the Cheetos, and the next you have a clarinet in your face and someone's saying, 'here, play THIS!' Bear Hands channels that, 'we just want to smile and make some noises' vibe, and that's a good feeling to be a part of. (By Kelly Mclure, photo via brooklyn Vegan)