Best Guitar-Shredder - 2009
In the history of rock music, there have been exactly zero even tolerable covers of "Cortez the Killer," so please understand how improbable it is that New Brunswick, New Jersey's Screaming Females are now offering a stupendous version of the Neil Young weeper on their MySpace page, sped up and imbued with a menacing, bizarrely erotic swagger. The shred-punk trio's not-even-remotely-secret weapon? Singer/guitarist Marissa Pasternoster, a very tiny (onstage, she's barely visible over the heads of the folks in the front row), very mysterious (her eyes are all but obscured by her mop-top hairdo), and very loud (she shrieks like a demonic anime hellion) tornado of pure, uncut awesomeness who howls through songs called "I Believe in Evil" and "Buried in the Nude" before blasting off into dizzying, dazzling shredmaster guitar solos, terse and ludicrous and awe-inspiring. The Females recently toured with the Dead Weather; no idea how Jack White had the balls to even walk out onstage after Pasternoster was done with it, or how there was still a stage left at all. Call it Guitar Hero: Riot Grrrl. Bow down.