Jesse Malin: Vocals, Guitars
One Little Indian: TPLP399CD
I have to start by saying “Hotel Columbia”… Genius, Fantastic! It’s one of those tunes that the first time you hear it your heart leaps and you can’t wait for the album to finish so that you can skip back to it and play it again… and again and again. You know what I mean, driving the neighbours nuts while you dance around your room screaming “Call me up, Call me up Columbia”. It’s that instant buzz from the ultimate drug. It's what I'd call “the Sheena syndrome”, as ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ was the first song to have that effect on me!
But please don’t imagine I’m saying buy this album and skip straight to track 12 because the journey there most certainly should not be missed or rushed. Like Jesse’s debut, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction, every song is an individual work of art that could never be labelled ‘Album Track’.
The album opens with the new single ‘Mona Lisa’, which with its very different Beatles-esque production immediately defines an original identity for Jesse’s ‘difficult’ second album. This is followed by ‘Swingin’ Man’ and even though this is only the second track, you just can’t help thinking already that most bands' ‘best of’ albums aren’t this good!
I’ve been anticipating the studio version of ‘Silver Manhattan’ perhaps a little too much. I guess it was always going to be impossible for this song to live up to all my expectations. I still believe this song is the best on the album (maybe even the best Jesse has written so far) but I wanted to hear it acoustically. All that beautiful, tragic emotion that Jesse puts into this song, for me, works so much better with just vocals, guitar and piano. Maybe if I wish hard enough then Jesse will release an acoustic version.
…On the other hand, ‘Arrested’ is everything I was hoping it would be, while ‘Scars Of Love’ and ‘New World Order’ display the broader (maybe even heavier!) sound that seemed quite evident recently when I saw Jesse live at the Rescue Rooms. ‘Basement Home’ is an old Jesse Malin classic that first appeared in his live sets as far back as his PCP Highway days. Partly for this reason then, this track feels more reminiscent of previous releases than anything else on the album. But this is a brilliant song that will now hopefully find the wider audience it has always deserved.
‘Indian Summer’ is another new song that benefits from the bigger sound including distorted guitars and the line “dying for a living”, which reaches back to the D Generation song of that title or even ‘So Messed Up’ from the album Through The Darkness that also uses the same line.
If I was to make one minor criticism, then it would be of the sleeve artwork that for me lets down an album that is destined to become the best album of the year. But whatever I think of the artwork, the fact remains that musically Jesse has definitely evolved and risen to all the challenges posed by a second album. And perhaps more importantly for a ‘rocker’ like myself, then Jesse has definitely increased the fire power of his ‘live’ artillery with the release of The Heat.
Just a footnote for D Generation fanatics: Amongst the many collaborating guest musicians performing on The Heat alongside Jesse is Howie Pyro - bass & crazy effects. In fact, I believe that if you listen close enough to the production sound of The Heat, then you can hear similarities to the production sound of the PCP Highway demos… which was the last time Howie and Jesse worked together.