Elevate Difference

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

Marnie Stern was brought to my attention by one of my favorite shredders, Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females. This could not be more appropriate as Marnie Stern is also a shredder. I could not help but be intrigued by this album. The cover art (by Bella Foster) grabbed me immediately with its watercolor and pencil styling of dreamy forest imagery recalling Henry Darger. The album’s curious title, This Is It & I Am It & You Are It & So Is That & He Is It & She Is It & It Is It & That Is That comes from a 1960 Alan Watt piece, This Is It.

This Is It... begins with just a nondescript clicking and Marnie Stern's elfish voice repeating eerie phrases "defenders get on to your knees..." in "Prime." On first impression, Stern’s voice is can be compared to Joanna Newsom's quirky vocals. At forty-two seconds in, the beat drops and the song really begins, exploding into a panicky cacophony of guitar and drums.

The album is definitely a psychedelic freak out. Stern pairs up again with Zach Hill of Hella, who also appeared on Stern’s 2007 debut album, In Advance of the Broken Arm. Stern's intricate and erratic guitar riffs can only be followed by someone with the impeccable timing and precision of Hill. I would argue that he is the most appropriate drummer for this album. 

Bassists John Reed Thompson and Jonathon Hischke demonstrate the ability to follow through on Stern and Hill's compositional aesthetics. Stern’s creative riffs and unique voice call to mind Deerhoof and Erase Errata, in the best ways, which should be extrapolated to mean you can definitely dance to this. At times I am even reminded of The Beatles' more trippy songs. Tracks like "The Crippled Jazzer" are super-driving, making it clear that Stern is well-versed in the art of inducing head-banging as well.

This Is It... will definitely satisfy your need for weirdo psychedelic jams. It is exciting to hear someone going down a completely original route with what seems like no pretense at all; this is hard to find especially in New York. And I'd also be lying if I said I weren't excited that Marnie Stern recorded this album herself.

Written by: Kate Wadkins, January 16th 2009

Found Marnie because of Zach Hill. Her two albums are amazing from start to finish. Right up there with Sleater-Kinney in my opinion.