Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's A Thin Line Between ThrowDown And ShowTune

I'll admit it, some artists I just do not get. Nellie McKay is one of them. I want to like her because she's a freak-flag waving anti-folk dork (I need to know a little something about this 'anti-folk' movement the kids tend to hate on. I'm fifteen years after the fact, I know, but I worked at Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A where this whole anti-folk scene was bred but I still don't know what the hell it is). My personal truth is that her music bugs the snot right out of me.

See the problem is this: I'm a pop sucker-chump. I'm into great big echoe-y, reverb heavy production, batshit arrangement choices but most of all...I loves me some keyboard. Even if the song is an Emerson, Lake, & Palmer homage featuring lyrics rhyming 'Rock Me Guiliani' with 'Lockheed Spooge Upon Me' ...if it features overproduced layers upon overdubs upon samples of pianos and strings I probably shamelessly adore it.

Some examples of this:

All of Arcade Fire's 'Funeral'
Magnetic Fields
H.P. Lovecraft (the psychedelic band, not the author)
Anything Phil Spector has ever had a hand in
Electric Light Orchestra's 'Out Of The Blue'
David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory'
Rolling Stones' 'Their Satanic Majesties Request'
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
Black Keys (so reverb heavy I can't actually play them out in bars because it's just shrill and trebly. Drinkers leave in droves.)

...and Nellie McKay produces her own stuff which is pretty amazing because her newest release 'Pretty Little Head' features some truly stellar production. But...'Pretty Little Head' is the original cast soundtrack to what I imagine to be my worst nightmare of an Off-Broadway musical. I never wanted to see 'Urinetown' because I guessed that the music was atrocious and I was right because I bought the cast album/cd used and it was unlistenable. 'Spring Awakenings' is said to be the 'Rent' of 2006. Is that supposed to be high praise?! 'Rent' is 'AIDS For Dummies' as sung through by the cast of 'Zoom'. I realize that the score for 'Spring Awakenings' was written by Duncan Sheik which lends the endeavor a certain amount of mid-90's hipster credibility but why isn't Elvis Costello writing Broadway musicals? Or Tom Waits? Or Goldfrapp? Ying Yang Twins?

So anyway, I can't get behind Nellie. No hooks. 'Cupcake' is a well-intentioned tribute to gay marriage but it's about as fun as actually attending a commitment ceremony upstate somewhere around Syracuse or something. Regina Spektor is flat-out quackers in the Nellie McKay vein but she manages to at least reference a radio friendly single (specifically 'November Rain') once in a while. And 'On The Radio' should be on the radio because it's what 'Hollaback Girl' would be if it only had a brain. She's got some funk and I'm looking forward to more of her shit.

That's all. Nothing more to write.

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