‘The Chronicles of Marnia’ album is a treat for guitar lovers

By Kevin Bartelt

If The Ting Tings and TV on the Radio had a baby who was addicted to caffeine, her name would be Marnie Stern.

Stern is a New York City singer and guitarist who Spin Magazine voted No. 87 out of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time. Her new album, “The Chronicles of Marnia,” features a few noteworthy tracks. Keep in mind, noteworthy isn’t always a good thing.

“Year of the Glad” is the most popular song on the album. “Year of the Glad” is a great way to start off the album, with a fast-paced beat by the group’s talented drummer, Zach Hill, and Stern’s equally quick riffs. However, Stern’s (for lack of better words) “monkey noises” really illustrate the experimentation of the group. Other then Stern making strange high-pitched noises throughout the song, I really enjoyed the drums, guitar and even her (comprehendible) lyrics.

Stern’s impressive finger tapping (guitar technique) exemplify her guitar chops. For those unfamiliar with finger tapping, just listen to any Van Halen song for an example–no offense, Eddie.

Stern demonstrates this in tracks like “Nothing is Easy” and “Still Moving.” Although both the tracks are poetic, they sound very similar. I was not even aware they were two different songs until the chorus of “Still Moving” began. Obvious resemblances hurt her originality in the album, like both tracks having boomy unisons combined with Stern’s repetitive finger tapping. It is understandable that she should want to show off her finger tapping skills, but doing so on simultaneous tracks was not smart. I wish she had spread the skill out throughout the album.

Unfortunately, the ratio of women guitarists is still not proportional to men, but once you get past the redundant finger tapping, you can truly recognize Stern’s guitar skills are a gift. It’s great to see that she has raised the bar for female guitarists.

I wouldn’t put “Chronicles of Marnia” on my top five albums of the year, but it’s always fun to listen to how musicians experiment with a very open-ended genre of music.