A Journey Into the Mind of Nellie McKay
This record is Nellie McKay’s mind. Pretty Little Head is a journey through a world that exists only in her mind — it is a fantastic dream. Although brilliance is here, some of the album unfortunately is a nightmare. The album is an Adventure in Wonderland: with her beautiful voice she hic-ups and squeals; raps like a white-teenage-vegan; soulfully woos with jazzy melodies; and sings campy, laughable tunes. She remains youthful while still having something to say. This swirl of styles makes Nellie exciting, fresh and admirable. Although Pretty Little Head was ready for an October 2005 release, suits at Columbia/Sony Records were only prepared to support an abbreviated version of Pretty Little Head — Nellie McKay refused. After a brief freak out — she distributed the email of head Columbia/Sony executive at a live show — she was dropped from (see: left) the label. After uncountable delays, Pretty Little Head was finally released over a year after its completion on McKay’s own label. In her actions and in her music McKay is strong willed and vocal: anything but tame. Apparently, she likes to do things herself. A large part of the magic on her debut, Get Away From Me should be attributed to wizard-producer Geoff Emerick — the 6th Beatle (if George Martin is the 5th). Every instrument on Get Away From Me was played and recorded deliberately; every sound was creative and had intention and meaning. Although an array of instruments are used, and some fresh vocal harmonies are sung on Pretty Little Head, without Emerick’s production Nellie McKay’s inexperience unfortunately is heard.
No. 7. The State Diner, State Street. Wednesday, 7:46 p.m.
The State Diner, the “twilight zone” of local eateries, where, at a certain time in the early morning, you can expect to run into a mixed crowd of hunters in camoflage and student long hairs, all chowing down on the State Diner perennials of hamburger, coffee, and rice pudding. Oh, State Diner, the best place to take your hang over on a Sunday morning, or your folks to brunch, or just to sit alone with your French toast drowned in maple syrup and your endless refill, as you bathe in the smiles and “How ya doings” of the authentically nice waitresses and the ambience of a genuine Ithaca landlmark, and try to get the prehistoric, dysfunctional table jukeboxes–the same ones that serenaded the Formica dreams of your predecessors–to work. Never mind. All hail the State Diner and her Vegas-style neon sign. Forever may they slurp, sizzle, and blaze into the endless Ithaca night!