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The Heat

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iTunes Review

On Jesse Malin’s second solo album, there’s healthy empathy for the downtrodden and broken and a worldview that’d do Martin Scorsese proud. “Arrested” is classic NYC singer/songwriter rock 'n' roll, detailing boxed-in city characters becoming aware of their own futility. Like observations from an apartment window above a coin laundry on a drug corner, where “the undercover makes the bust/But not before he gets a touch.” Then “Swinging Man” sees an improvident romantic on the lam who gets his: “We never had a baby but she got more tattoos/And I got more material for the blues.” The frontman of the ill-fated power-chorders D Generation came up in the shadow of Max’s Kansas City—too young to have been damaged in it and far enough away to romanticize. Throw in big sweeping production—with acoustic and slide guitars, droning organs, reverb, and piano—and some Midnight Cowboy and Lenny Bruce aesthetics, and it’s no wonder that Bruce Springsteen’s a huge fan of this 2004 release. Malin’s nasally delivery takes a minute, but his voice conveys real sadness (and bittersweet pop tones) when necessary.

Customer Reviews

A gem of post-punk self-indulgence

This is really a lovely album. Malin has a lot of ties, artistic and personal, to one of music's truest super-heroes: Ryan Adams. Like the latter's tour de force performance on "Rock and Roll", Malin's "The Heat" is a beautifully crafted, charmingly melodious piece of work about, among other things, the self-indulgences and temptations available in New York City, as well as their consequences. Oddly enough enough, for an album that is laregely dark and slow moving, Malin begins this album with one of its jumpiest and most cheerful tunes, ironically a tribute to a friend lost in the 9/11 attacks. "Mona Lisa" jumps out of the gates with is simple, inordinately catchy guitar riff and a cacaphony of voices, both musical and conversational. This gives the song, and the album as a whole, the poignant feel of being a recording of something overheard on the street or the subway or the bar, an eavesdropping of life. The song, with its themes of death, remebrance, and identity powerfully catalogues and slices out of life descriptions of people from every walk of life, soldiers, transvestites, drug addicts, businessmen, and it does this without the usual passing of judgement on non-artistic or revolutionary ways of life. Malin is not afraid to portray life as he sees it, nor is he intent on raising himself above anyone else. Other highlights on the album include "Swingin' Man" a gorgeous ballad about the search for self-importance in musicianship, "Goin' out West", a heartbreaking yarn about the need for escape from the city that never sleeps, and "Hotel Columbia" which is simply a model of melody and texture, with a complexity of form that is incredibly rare in today's music. Buy this album. It's lush, elusive textures, creative and catchy melodies, and entrancingly beautiful, lyrics are a testament to what music really should be today.

two thumbs up

a real artist...

Biography

Born: January 26, 1968 in Queens, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Jesse Malin is a songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist who has more than one musical personality, having made a name as a thoughtful and introspective singer/songwriter in his solo career as well as playing raucous, over the top rock & roll with the band D Generation, though heartfelt and street-smart songwriting is the common element in all of Malin's work. Born January 26, 1968 in Queens, New York, Malin was just 12 years old when he joined his first band, handling vocals and guitar for the New...
Full Bio