This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
Kill Rock Stars (2008)
Marnie Stern's choppy album title (not one of the 31 words exceeds one syllable or four letters) is not dissimilar to the sound of her sophomore release. "This Is It" is a blur of blazing guitar riffs, runaway tempos and howling vocals. Stern sounds like a rock version of Japanese punk noisemakers Melt-Banana, with more musical focus and less shrill vocals. Stern even approaches a near whisper on "The Crippled Jazzer," and the stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence that ends the song is almost more charmingly convoluted than the album title.
More interesting than her singing, though, is her guitar-playing. Her rapid, repeated guitar riffs on "Clone Cycle" and "Transformer" recall the prowess of Orthrelm's Mick Barr. Her o bvious rapport with drummer Zach Hill (Hella) makes "This Is It" a coherent listen. And when she slows down enough on "Steely" to croon, "I'm like a raging animation," conjuring images of hyperactive cartoon clones of Stern covering all of her energetic parts at once, it's clear that she truly understands her own strengths.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 6 March 2009, Page WE18
.: This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That on Amazon.com.