Ok. Let's get this out of the way. Marnie Stern can shred. She's a better guitar player than you, or me, or probably 99% of the people who have ever looked at a guitar. There. That's done.
Marnie came out of nowhere, or the Upper East Side of Manhattan to be exact. She didn't listen to "good" music (her words) until she was 23. The first thing she heard that made her head spin was Sleater-Kinney, followed a few years later by Hella, Boredoms, Melt Banana, etc. A Don Caballero video introduced her to the finger-tapping technique she now uses expertly. For the last several years she has played guitar for "at least" three hours a day because she feels guilty when she doesn't play. Marnie is one of the rare artists who was signed to KRS after sending in a demo tape.
Her debut record, In Advance of the Broken Arm, is culled from songs written by herself in her bedroom over a two-year period, with production and drum work by Hella's Zach Hill. Her songs are of the earth, birthed in an organic process where the finished product is much more striking than the individual parts: created in solitude, the songs contain a staggering number of layers, each one winding its way around the others, then counterpointed by Marnie's feminine, echoing, powerful vocals. Despite the artful pretensions of some of her influences, Marnie's lyrics are her secret weapon... every line has an understated elegance floating above the mindnumbingly complex guitar work.
What makes Marnie better than any of the other hundreds of nameless and faceless tech guitar wizards is her uncanny ability to somehow transform the most complicated guitar acrobatics into beautiful and concise 3 minute pop songs. Hers is an inspired, forward-moving art that you can take home to mom, and play for your kid sister. In Advance of the Broken Arm transcends any gimmicky "recluse" label because it is so present and immediate, and is certainly the most vibrant, original, empowering, and groundbreaking record released in a long time.
Kelefa Sanneh, THE NEW YORK TIMES
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. True, there are 10 months left, but you could spend at least half of them puzzling your way through “In Advance of the Broken Arm,” her riotous debut... This raucous, wriggly music will certainly make Ms. Stern a cult sensation, and no doubt she's not expecting anything more than that. But don't imagine that this album is some sort of endurance test: it's too joyful, and too pretty, to be considered difficult.
...next-big-thing...you know for fucking sure Stern has it-- a charisma and technique that already distinguishes her as pure Technicolor in a glutted, black-and-white scene.
Don't judge a book by its cover, is the sort of advice a musician like Marnie Stern has probably adopted as a credo throughout her musical path. Hiding behind her Fender Jaguar, the petite blonde singer-songwriter appears harmless, but once she strikes a chord all earplugs in the room run away in fear. You see, Stern doesn't just play her guitar enthusiastically, she attacks her axe with complete and utter abandon, and it's spectacular to hear... here is your new goddess, so give her love!
THE WASHINGTON POST
The most fascinating racket we might hear in 2007 comes from a virtuoso metalhead with the fashion sense of a soccer mom. Her name is Marnie Stern and she put on a dizzying show...the guitar-slinging Brooklynite's excellent debut album, "In Advance of the Broken Arm," landed in stores earlier that day -- it's a manic and mystifying affair, teeming with kiddie-friendly melodies and heavy-metal histrionics...enough to make your head spin, without making your head ache. The woman has chops...
...every so often a prodigal thrasher blazes through, momentarily challenging the status quo and carving out a niche in the pantheon of guitar greatness with a new breed of ax mastery. Enter Marnie Stern. Signed to Kill Rock Stars after sending in a home demo, the singer-guitarist wowed 'em at CMJ in the fall, and on In Advance of the Broken Arm, her two-years-in-the-making debut written and recorded with Hella's Zach Hill serving as drummer/producer/co-conspirator, the out-of-leftfield bedroom player delivers on that early promise. Built from hypnotic hammer-ons, stutter-stepping time signatures and blazing tones, this is a pop record gone astray, a noise-y affair with a charming rough-and-tumble sunniness on every track that manages to impress technically while at the same time delivering dizzyingly cohesive songs.