Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern (Souterrain Transmissions) 18/10/2010
November 25, 2010 by Victoria Harris
New York rocker Marnie Stern is a force to be reckoned with. Having received critical acclaim for her debut album, and subsequent follow-up, the stakes are high for album number three.
The opening track, “For Ash” is a little too heavy on the drums for Stern’s guitar prowess to be heard fully, but is still just edgy enough to hook you in. The album itself doesn’t flow in the way a lot of albums do, but each track stands alone, making the album somewhat of a smorgasbord of sound. “Risky Biz” is the first single release off the album, and is probably the most radio-friendly of all the album as it lacks a lot of the heavy layering that is used throughout the rest of the self-titled album.
“Cinco de Mayo” is the album’s high point, with hard vocals and building crescendo of guitars and drums that gives the track a somewhat ethereal feel. Other tracks such as “Her Confidence” are darker and slower, and almost seem out of place alongside the slightly more upbeat vibe of the rest of the album.
The final track of the album “The Things You Notice” is a rather jaunty tune, and it seems a fitting finale for this third album. You get the feeling that this album is going to be a grower, as on first listen it doesn’t come across that well. After playing it through a few times, it starts to improve once you realise that it doesn’t really flow, and that’s a huge part of the appeal.
Stern’s trademark heavy guitar riffs and floating, dream-like vocals serve to ensure that this self-titled album exceeds expectations. In a time when female guitarist-songwriters are often largely ignored by the mainstream charts, Marnie Stern offers something different and refreshing. She is not even attempting to follow the mainstream with this third offering, and it is why she manages to achieve the edgy, gritty sound that makes her so unique. Perhaps “Female Guitar Players Are The New Black” could yet prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for her.