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Album review: Marnie Stern, "Marnie Stern (Self Titled)"

Marnie Stern shreds and slashes on her new self-titled record

By Patrick Foster

The guitar is everything for Marnie Stern. But she’s no posturing six-string hero: The intertwining, multilayered guitar tracks on her eponymous third album come across like burnished steel — and gleam with a unique ferocity. Topped with her caterwauling vocals and presented with metallic bass and drum accompaniment, the result is her most focused, cohesive work.

Stern’s previous records were original, occasionally inspiring efforts that were mostly smothered by her startling technique (including finger-tapping and ..... just YouTube her). Her latest, however, represents a leap forward in songwriting and vision.
What the listener gets are sparkling, tumbling songs such as “Nothing Left,” which opens with an ominous riff, adds an off-kilter slashing rhythm section and leaps into an infectious fist-pump chant before cascading into a brilliant chorus that contains an actual hook. Similar stuff abounds.

Some have cast the blond, cosmically inclined Stern as a kind of female Hendrix, and songs such as “Building a Body” and “Transparency Is the New Mystery” suggest a kinship. But it’s in her arranging savvy — placing multiple guitar tracks next to each other, popping them in and out of the aural widescreen — where Jimi can be felt.
And the one-two punch of “Female Guitar Players Are the New Black” and “Gimmie” proves she hasn’t lost any of the headbanging, left-field indie snarl that has gained her a small but dedicated following.

Recommended tracks:
“Gimmie,” “Nothing Left”

By The Reliable Source  | October 5, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Album reviews  | Tags:  Marnie stern, kill rock stars  
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