Jesse Malin
Jesse Malin
Jesse Malin

Students of NYC hardcore will no doubt already be familiar with Jesse Malin via Heart Attack & D Generation. For the uninitiated – don’t be put off by the “Produced By Ryan Adams” tag – this could be his best work yet (erm, that’s Adams, by the way). Jesse’s debut LP, “The Fine Art Of Self Destruction”, is just about everything Adam’s has ever wanted to achieve – but from the wrong side of the desk. Where Adams comes across as affected & trying just a bit too hard, Malin pulls it all off with effortless aplomb. Jesse possesses a cracked actor of a voice that sounds as if its been lived in far too long. There are traces of NYC circa 75-76 – dashes of the Heartbreakers & heaps of Hell – as well as nods to early Petty, Springsteen, Westerberg & Earle. “Fine Art Of Self Destruction” is one of the finest NYC street scene LPs in a long, long time – it’s that good.

“Queen Of The Underworld” strides out to quell a disturbance on the landing deep inside the middle of the night. Riding a skank like Patti did with “Redondo Beach”, we are reminded that reggae had infused the rock & roll community of NYC long before it had made similar inroads in the UK. On the bridge into the chorus Jesse almost comes on like Jagger on “Angie”.

“TKO” is washed in “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” era Springsteen & remembers a time when a chorus could just sit on a riff without any excuses or a sick note from the Songwriter’s Guild by way of explanation.

“Downliner” hugs a familiar lick but takes it to altogether new pastures. You can feel the steam rising, hear the wheels cut the tracks – hell, you can almost smell the coffee.

“Wendy” rocks. Sounding not unlike one of the more up-tempo cuts from “Guitar Town”, this has been cited by many as the LPs finest moment. A chorus fed on a strict diet of vegetables, fruit & low tar cigarettes means you’ll be up all night humming this one.

“Brooklyn” appears twice – here in the stripped down piano backed version. A sad song of doom & gloom – she couldn’t live with him so she moved to Brooklyn. Echoes of Jospeh Arthur – boy, that lad gets about – “Brooklyn” is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

“The Fine Art Of Self Destruction”, as title tracks go, is certainly no slouch. Building slowly on a treated cyclical riff, it rises to a crescendo & promises to pay it all back one day.

“Riding On The Subway” doffs its cap to the chorus of “Mrs Robinson” but lives to tell the tale. Again, the sounds of the street come up with the music & soon take on an identity all of their own. The guitar solo is a joy – (Hey, Jonesy) - & the solo outro/bridge at 3.04 reeks of pure class. By the time the cut is done you’re like: Art who? Simon who?

“High Lonesome” keeps the pressure on. The quality of song-writing on “FAOSD” really has to be heard to be believed. Timeless is a word that springs immediately to mind – these songs often feel like they’ve been lying around for years waiting to have life breathed into them.

“Solitaire” pulls no punches or surprises – as the title suggests, it’s an ode to life on your own, as well as a statement of intent. Jesse sounds like he’s made his mind up, come to terms with it all at last – time to move on down the road - & where that road takes him, only time will tell.

“Almost Grown” is a back-porch rocker that slides along mid-tempo on an energy all of its own making – one day we all have to leave our families behind & strike out on our own.

“Xmas” shuts up shop – bring the violins & hot chestnuts & we’ll try our best to make a go of it. Snow falls from the speakers like joy. A choir helps out on the chorus. The sound of people leaving the city – the sound of disappointment? Xmas always seems such a good idea during the run up.

The CD version features a bonus cut: a band run through the aforementioned “Brooklyn”, featuring some fantastic lead guitar work that illustrates just why punters all over the world are getting excited at the prospect of seeing Jesse live in 2003.

By the time you read this, Jesse will already have slipped through the UK & out of the door marked “Europe” without so much as a by your leave. If you got the chance to catch any of these shows you will understand exactly why we are all getting so excited about Jesse Malin – if not, there’s always next time – in the meantime, buy yr.self a copy of “The Fine Art Of Self Destruction”. If you like classic NYC street scene rock & roll, that is. If not – fuck you. Like the man said.

The Katestar – tMx9 – March 2003
Jes here:

contact - the needle & the damage done