Math rock… a phrase that has been used to describe a variety of styles, even more bands, and in many instances has become a catch-all for describing rock artists that play with time signatures, syncopate rhythms, employ intricate guitar play, or display excessive amounts of technical prowess. Unsurprisingly, such generalizations have produced detractors; no one likes to hear their music summed up with two-word descriptors, and no one likes a lazy writer (hey, to my credit, I only use the term within the context of other ideas). It’s probably a bit too messy to work as a cohesive genre, though you could argue that a lot of other genre classifications are just as inadequate (you mean you can’t accurately lump dozens of bands together with a couple words!?). Why don’t we all agree, here and now, to avoid that particular nomenclature and rely on adjectives instead? Please, whatever you do, don’t even utter the phrase to Tera Melos and no, the “largely 4/4” Foals record isn’t really math rock… but maybe along its course of atmospheric indie-pop it gets into mathy territory.
Well, somewhere on this confusing front, mathy avant-shredder Marnie Stern is poised to unleash her second kaleidoscopic assault on the ears of the world. Due out Oct. 7th on Kill Rock Stars, the ambitiously-titled 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 (gasp) seems to pick up right where 2007’s In Advance of the Broken Arm left off. Album opener “Prime” begins with off-the-wall spoken word intoned in time with single percussive hits before it crescendos into a flurry of guitars and drums courtesy of Stern and collaborator Zach Hill. However, as the record goes on, it becomes clear that she’s taken the elements that made her debut so strong and reworked them into an even more pop-conscious effort. It’s still technical, it’s still challenging, guitar arpeggios still shine like glorious beacons of holy light, and she still layers her vocal work in syncopated speak-singing, high-pitched wails, and cascading falsettos, but now the melodies are brighter, the tones are warmer, and the sound is fuller.
Hit up her myspace to hear a few tracks from This Is It and I Am It… after you check out “Transformer” down below, one of the many standout tracks from the album, which brilliantly showcases Marnie Stern’s ability to use astonishing technical skill in a way that fully compliments her songwriting and doesn’t alienate the listener. This girl is pure gold.
Download: Marnie Stern – Put All Your Eggs in One Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!!
Buy: You can also order her superb debut record, In Advance of the Broken Arm, from Kill Rock Stars.