When I talked to Marnie Stern for a Progress Report, she mentioned “For Ash,” the track that pulled her out of a songwriting rut. But it’s important to her just-announced self-titled album for other reasons. “Ash” is the ex-boyfriend who inspired Stern to work as intensely as she has on her guitar playing and her songwriting. When she found out he had committed suicide, she immediately began writing:
I wasn’t thinking about myself, I was thinking about him. I stayed up for like three days working on that song. And it was sort of… I mean, I’m no hippie, but it was kind of like a trance-like thing. It was so upsetting and so powerful. I guess I feel like I cared about this person so incredibly much, that I wish I had a hundred songs that I could sing every night about him.
As she mentioned, and as you can hear, “For Ash” isn’t a sad eulogy. It has a wild, pummeling beat and plenty of her bright guitar leads and echoing vocal chants. If you couldn’t tell from our Gum Bowl videos, Stern is delightfully nutty in person, so a eulogy wouldn’t make sense for her.
Marnie Stern is out 10/5 via Kill Rock Stars.