Marnie Stern: “Plain Speak”

In the 10 years since her last album, Marnie Stern has been a steady presence on TV as a member of Late Night With Seth Meyers’ house band. It rules that she got that NBC healthcare and steady paycheck, but every time the band’s plush and mellow indie rock wafted the show to ad break, it was easy to think about how much more she was capable of. “Plain Speak” ushers her out of the subdued TV instrumental zone with lively, nimble guitar heroics and a swarm of multi-tracked vocals. “I can’t keep on moving backwards,” she sings, and the song presses her point with its constant bustle. Every bit the guitar hero she was a decade ago, Stern feverishly taps frets; the riffs can’t decide if they’re climbing or falling, but she’s on the up.