MARNIE STERN at the Pike Room

MONDAY NOVEMBER 24, 2008
doors at 8PM
tickets: $8 (buy tickets)

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"A lot of people think everything has to do with luck and timing, and I just don't think that's true," says superlative guitar shredder MARNIE STERN, pounding a bar counter to punctuate the word don't. "There are actors that work for 20 years and fade in and out of fame. Keeping in there is the important part." Don't worry; Stern hasn't dropped her trusted Electra guitar or "bitchin'" double-neck Epiphone for a steady regiment of self-help seminars. The New York Times-endorsed, Pitchfork-approved (one reviewer called her "pure Technicolor in a glutted, black-and-white scene") vocalist/guitarist knows what she's talking about, though. After all, she dealt with nothing but blank faces in the early '00s, as the New York native struggled to get noticed among the Strokes/Yeah Yeah Yeahs explosion in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. "Developing my own style took years of taking risks," says Stern. "I know my voice is high, but singing like Yoko Ono was unbelievably embarrassing for me at first. I didn't even want my best friend to hear it. She was like, 'Come on, Marnie! Show people your silly side!' And I was like, 'Are you kidding? Do you know how annoying that sounds?'" Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times (now at The New Yorker) was one of the first critics to celebrate the Stern's quirkiness and the carpe diem cuts of her debut, In Advance of the Broken Arm, writing, "Yes! It's hard to muster a more nuanced response to Marnie Stern, a previously obscure shredder and yawper who has just released the year's most exciting rock 'n' roll album." While her first full-length had the focus of a bullet train from New York to Boston, Stern's second LP, the endlessly-titled This Is It ... (blame an Alan Watts essay) is a pop record for an alternate dimension, where hooks and choruses are sent careening through a cracked kaleidoscope. That includes everything from the chirping chorus line of "Ruler" to the luscious riff-raking leads of "Crippled Jazzer." Stern's new one is also deeply personal compared to the conceptual leanings of her previous work. She wasn't comfortable with that angle at first, but she quickly found a balance between bloodletting and keeping things universal.

 

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