Marty McKay – New York City Dreams

McK - Album Cover

Coming up this February 24th, out of Zurich, Switzerland, from hip hop DJ to alternative rocker, Marty McKay will be dropping his second studio album: New York City Dreams. This dark, and dismal album is about a journey of far away adventure, love, loss, and return. This full circular movement is spattered with those beautiful moments we all experience, when the Sun briefly parts from the otherwise dreary clouds in our lives. The rather alternative, pop-rock vibe of the album, with hints of the hip hop beats of his past, really forges an engaging niche for Marty McKay in the music world.

Now the opening track to the album is also the currently available single that is complete with its own music video, and why not let’s take a bit of a journey into that world before getting on with the rest of the album?

Now upon first listening to the track, devoid of the video, I had a great sense of what life was like when I was still living back in my hometown. It was always the same old shit, the people never seemed to change, all of my failures there seemed to linger, and I felt as though I lived in a ghost town (perhaps the part of McKay’s lyric that stuck out the most to me); it seemed like a place in stasis – spirits who could never move forward. Suffice it to say, I needed to escape. Surely this is no surprising journey for youth; it is a defining part of the lives of many. Perhaps that’s what makes this track so relatable.

Now adding the video to the mix, there was certainly still that sense of escape, but following the story of the leading lady did have me a bit confused. She was evidently preyed upon, could not seem to escape her own haunted dreams – they perhaps becoming her reality? At first it seems that a jilted lover has come for vengeance, but then by the end of the video, the woman steps out into a doorway of light, and McKay drops the photo of her that he’s holding. This seemed to confirm to me more of that idea of needing to (funnily enough) ‘Escape‘. It’s as though he was struggling with his tortured and twisted feelings regarding this woman, but finally let her go, as he prepared to start anew. There is still, as far as I can see, a possible interpretation regarding the story arc of the album simply following this woman, and her escape, but it seems more likely that the story is in fact about the musician.

Marty McKayMoving forward, McKay finds himself in ‘Empire Town‘ (AKA New York City), starting a new life in a world he simply “can’t describe” (though realistically he does make a pretty damn good go of it). The city immediately opens his eyes to the possibilities of the world. “Nothing’s impossible” seems to be the crux of the song.

Then, as if ‘Out Of The Blue‘; out of the cacophony that is the city that never sleeps, McKay spots ‘the girl’. And while the lyric suggests a “no regrets” policy, having left home, and while this could be a simple projection of this journalist’s own life, it seems to be that he finds, in this new woman, the essence of what he had lost “half a world away”: diving in heart first…That horrible, and inadvertent hanging on of the past.

Oh, ‘When The Lights Go Out‘, and one must then jump ‘Into The Fire‘, there is this incredibly manic, even euphoric way of connecting with another in an unfortunately mutually destructive manner. The intensity of the first track hammers out the torrid instability with incredible passion, while the latter seems to speed (however beautifully – my personally favourite track) this euphoria on to epic proportions; just asking to be brought low.

Never heard it put like this before, committing ‘Love Suicide‘ is that severing of ties to a lover that results in that unbearable loneliness anyone who has ever loved and lost knows. Unrequited love is often the blade that cuts through the sinews and nerves that make up what one thought was love. One is then forced to start ‘Another Life‘ (this track contains my favourite guitar riff of the album), losing the clarity that was all too present when the wounds of betrayal and loss were still fresh. In response to those fading memories, one often tries to cling to the blurred images of “failed romance”.

Marty McKayThe emotional journey that is the search, discovery, and loss of love inevitably results in a rage where one just wishes they could put things ‘Outta Sight Outta Mind‘. At least ‘Until The Pain Is Gone‘, which brings one to that final depressive state, before the sun rises, and one finds acceptance…and perhaps repeats the cycle over again.

Please pardon my overwhelming analysis of this album. The truth is, the journey that is this album is indeed engaging, and warrants such exploration. Just the story alone is so relatable, but to add to that the incredible musical and lyrical talent of Marty McKay…a truly horrifyingly beautiful narrative album is the result. Taken from a dark excitement, to discomfort, to euphoria, to the fall, to rage, to sorrow…leaving the door open for the hope of freedom, and clarity. Perhaps not in the typical order, one is taken on a musical adventure of the stages of grieving. And ultimately, life is one big process of these stages; music the language through which we discuss the process.

Strictly to the music for a moment, there were some spatterings of synth-driven, Lincoln Park-esque beats, but more predominantly a U2 sort of guitar vibe, especially through the first half of the album. Thankfully the occasional Edge-like guitar was accompanied by greater musical prowess, and ingenuity than that of U2. Harmonies, both high and low filled the songs wonderfully, and the raw quality of McKay’s vocals give just that little bit of needed grit to really capture the personal touch of the tortuous exploration. The occasional music pull, giving room for silence, really gives a glimpse of reprieve before being flung back ‘Into The Fire‘.

Whether or not alternative pop-rock is ‘your thing’, I strongly recommend that you check out the album when it arrives, and give it a whirl over HERE on iTunes. And if you find yourself engaged enough to want to learn more, check out Marty McKay’s previous, and updated work over HERE.