New Music: Marnie Stern, Sky Larkin, Shakira and the xx

My greatest regret of CMJ week, which just blew through New York in a whirlwind of panels and open bars and late-night Kanye sightings, was missing the almost-dozen performances by Marnie Stern. Marnie’s self-titled album, which came out earlier this month on Kill Rock Stars, is my favorite record of the year—brash but vulnerable, energetic but melancholy, and full of . Plus, “Female Guitar Players Are The New Black” is not only a great title that sorta-forces critics to deal with their “OMG a girl is playing guitar really fast that’s like so weird” biases, it’s a whirlwind of a track, with an army of Sterns leading the assault over Zach Hill’s pummeling drumming and guitar bursts that sound like they were inspired by the “pew! pew!” sounds people make when they’re playing Finger Lasers.