Marnie Stern, Roomrunner, Mayor Daley | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Marnie Stern, Roomrunner, Mayor Daley 

When: Wed., April 17, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: $12
New York guitarist Marnie Stern has already crammed three boisterous avant-pop albums with jubilant energy, huge hooks, and frenetic but hypnotizing rhythms. She probably wouldn’t have exhausted that approach if she’d stuck to it for her fourth record, but on the new The Chronicles of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars) she frequently turns off her hammer-on technique; the results are less raw, loud, and overwhelming but no less catchy. Not only do Stern’s pinging overdubbed guitars pop up less often, they’re often subdued when they do—and this is her first album without cataclysmic art-rock drum hero Zach Hill. Oneida drummer Kid Millions has replaced him, at least in the studio (former Parts & Labor drummer Joe Wong is touring with Stern), and though his neat, precise playing sounds bare compared to Hill’s hurricane of notes, it does give Stern some extra space. She exploits it by trying out bigger gestures than her finger-tapping style allowed—including brittle, twangy surf-rock guitar in lines that move like roller coasters (“Noonan”) and angular riffs that could almost pass for Fugazi (“East Side Glory”). Occasionally, on songs such as “Nothing Is Easy,” she also tones down her high-pitched, insistent vocals, switching to a relaxed sort of speak-singing. Even though Stern never sounds easygoing like that for very long, Chronicles is nonetheless a “quiet” album for her (insofar as she can be quiet), so when she breaks out her old fretboard fireworks it’s a startling rush. There’s more on Stern in this week’s Artist on Artist, where she’s interviewed by David Reminick of Paper Mice. —Leor Galil Roomrunner and Mayor Daley open.

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