Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: One Little Indian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Rock & Roll, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
On his solo albums, Jesse Malin sometimes sounds like he's struggling a bit, holding his rock & roll instincts in check as he delivers his more contemplative and introspective material. But Malin has given himself a bit more room to grant both sides of his musical personality their due on 2015's New York Before the War. The opening track "The Dreamers" is certainly the work of Serious Jesse, with its moody, middle-of-the-night piano and the distant, overheard chatter of electric guitars, but once "Addicted" kicks in, Malin loosens up a bit, with a thick acoustic guitar squaring off against sharp electric fills as he sings about the joy and pains of love gone wrong.
Jesse Malin has stood for years as an ambassador for connectivity, but not the smartphone kind. Malin is a fan of old-fashioned interactions, the sort that require you to leave your house and run the risk of face-to-face encounters with other human beings. The New York rocker often broaches the subject during his live shows, usually in the form of sardonic monologues about the ways that technology has chipped away at the golden possibilities that come with chance meetings in public spaces.
Sheena was a punk rocker, but not anymore. As Jesse Malin portrays her—or someone like her—in "Oh Sheena", from his new album New York Before the War, the Ramones’ mascot is older and wiser, stuck perhaps in the kind of dead-end life she once dreaded, but not cynical just yet. "There’s a world outside if you want it, there’s a world outside you can know," Malin promises her, wondering if we can realize any of those dreams we let slip away when we became adults.
Jesse MalinNew York Before The War(Velvet Elk)3.5 out of 5 stars It may not have been of Jesse Malin’s own making, but carrying around the mantle of “rock and roll poet” is a daunting task. Certainly there have been many legendary names attached to that moniker already, some such as Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Garland Jeffreys notably from his New York City home. But Malin has worn the title admirably over the years, first fronting the glammy D Generation then through a half dozen solo releases that have been remarkably consistent, if frustratingly under the radar.