Years ago I had a musical pining (one among many; I should probably verbalize and codify all of these sometime) for guitar that sounded like neon. That is the simplest way I know to describe it. Vibrant, loud, pulsating, humming with a palpable electric energy, intensely clean and clear. It’s been in my head all this time, and although occasionally I have heard glimpses and allusions to my imaginary timbre, its full actualization has forever eluded my ears. At times I have entertained the possibility of trying to take up electric pedal or lap steel, for, among other reasons, I thought it might be the instrument best suited for me to eventually obtain my Disneyland electrical light parade fireworks star wars light saber hyperspace sound. Haven’t gotten very far on that one so far, but I’m not dead yet.
Last night I was on emusic.com and on a whim I downloaded an album by one Marnie Stern, after hearing a few seconds of clips. By all extraneous indications, this album does not appear very exciting. The cover art looks a lot like it could be a Joni Mitchell album. (Nothing against Joni, I love her music.) Marnie Stern isn’t exactly a name that screams out “Rock Goddess.” But all of this melts away in fervent heat when you press play, as I did when I got home from work today. No one else was here to confirm or deny, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a constant smile on my face while loading and unloading the dishwasher, as I did today, listening to the album two times straight through. Marnie pretty much stole my neon sound (well, at least one aspect of it), but I’m not mad because she’s done so well with it, adding layers of overdubbed joyous vocals to her songs and finding a totally kickass drummer that is in all ways equal to her enthusiasm and stratospheric shredding. In order to prove my unspoken sonic theories she has called forth a frenetic calculus of rock and roll exultation. I’m just proud to have been such an important influence upon her music.
Of course I make this post all about me and my overly baroque writing, but still you must hear a track. Her record label is offering a gratuitous mp3 of a great one, entitled “Transformer,” a line of which provided this post its title. Enjoy.
by Marnie Stern
Released by the label Kill Rock Stars on October 7, 2008.
I don’t know the name of the drummer because I just have an mp3 version, but I can find out.