Guitar heroine

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  November 28, 2008

And though her music may be overwhelming, it's never evil or dark. "When I'm writing songs, I'm always going for something that sounds anthemic. I really really like that anthemic feel — I like positivity!" She ain't kidding: in "Transformer," off her the album with the unwieldy-yet-awesome title 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 (Kill Rock Stars), a flurry of arpeggiated tapping builds to a tornado of drums, guitar, and voice, as she sings uplifting lines like "I turn this moment into something new, it's true/Are you ready to feel alive?" Her artistic goals come into clear focus in the jarring spoken word of "Patterns of a Diamond Ceiling," the final tune on In Advance of the Broken Arm: "So you see, I am not looking to find a pot of gold/The picture in my head is my reward."

Stern recently made a video for "Ruler," from the new album, and it's a Rocky send-up in which she tapes her knuckles, drinks raw eggs, and punches raw meat. You get the sense that she's finally made it up the stairs of this Balboa-esque musical quest — and that it feels good to be there.

"Of course!" she shouts. "Although it took years and years, it took 10 years to find a voice! It was such an exhaustive process. And I'm happy now that I finally found it, but at the same time I want to try to grow as much as possible. I don't want to be doing some kind of formulaic thing — but you know, I can't force it."

MARNIE STERN + HO-AG + TALK NORMAL | Church, 69 Kilmarnock St, Boston | December 1 at 9 pm | 21+ | $9 | 617.236.7600 or www.churchofboston.com

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