Jesse Malin is set to release his first ever live album June 3rd on Adeline called Mercury Retrograde. The record was recorded over two nights at the Mercury Lounge in NYC right around Christmas 2007 and captures Malin at his best, telling tales of New York City life and playing all the fan favorites.
Here's what Malin himself has to say about his Mercury Retrograde:
"Leaving the house and going out to see live shows is a ritual for me - a physical experience that I can't get at home just listening to a studio album. For my first ever live album, I wanted to record the songs differently by going back to the original essence of how they were written, on an acoustic guitar either holed up in my little apartment, layin' back in some transient hotel room, or locked up in a bathroom. Over the past couple years I've been touring with a full band, but for this album, I wanted to go back to the way it was in the beginning and just do a stripped down acoustic set. I've always said that songwriting is like masturbating - you have to have a private, quiet moment when no one's around, which can be hard when you're on the road. But once you've perfected the art, you're ready to show the world."
"These recordings were made over 2 nights at the Mercury in New York City a week before Christmas 2007. I figured I should return to one of the spots I played when I was starting out. Talking between songs or doing "bits" as I call them, is something I did early on to kill time while I was tuning my guitar as I toured solo. These true stories evolved into a spoken word aspect of my live shows that hasn't been represented on any of my studio releases. Yackety yack." - Jesse Malin
Glitter in the Gutter is the new album from NYC’s Jesse Malin, an artist who has transcended tags like “singer/songwriter” for something different and largely indefinable. Penned “a fearless storyteller” (music critic Nigel Williamson), after releasing two critically acclaimed albums The Fine Art of Self Destruction and The Heat, Jesse has established himself as a career musician who writes songs that connect on so many levels that above all, he’s a healer. The songs on Glitter in the Gutter have kept the intimate slice of life and detail of his previous records but also work on a larger palate. Jesse writes locally but thinks globally and makes his songs identifiable so that they can connect with people in every part of the world.
On this new album, he writes about hope, struggles and smiles; about finding ways “to keep on keeping on.” Through his characters, like the woman who searches for salvation across the car radio dials in his song “Broken Radio”, or the kid hiding his face in the cereal box in “Modern World”, Malin points out “the little things that keep us laughing.” Malin is able to convey happiness and sadness in the same note. This happens throughout Glitter in the Gutter. He explains that Glitter in the Gutter is “just a record about people and the things we do to stay alive.”
The available time and iconography surrounding Glitter in the Gutter allowed Jesse to make the album he’s only hinted at with previous releases. “I’ve never made a record outside of New York my whole life—not even above 14th Street—so it was a different experience to be locked away in California,” he explains about the experience of recording the album in Los Angeles. “Right before we came out to [to California] I lost my apartment in New York, so I threw everything in storage in Queens and packed my life in a suitcase. So, yeah, this album had a lot of transient fugitive properties.”
Whether it was that type of personal impermanence or the uncertainty of our country’s future, Glitter in the Gutter is a wide musical spectrum. This album is an up-tempo, raw modern pop record that feels like a celebration of life as well as a rally to arms from the minute it begins with the anthemic opener “Beautiful Day”. Glitter contains some work from guests of fellow musicians that Jesse has met on the road over the last 3 years, such as Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who plays his signature dissident guitar riffs on “Tomorrow Tonight” and Chris Shifflet of the Foo Fighters, whose iron fisted rhythms appear on “Prisoners of Paradise”. Jakob Dylan adds sweet sad harmonies on “Black Haired Girl” and there is a piano fueled duet with Bruce Springsteen titled “Broken Radio” that includes the sonic jubilee of Ryan Adams on electric guitar. There are also some other very special moments with Ryan (producer of Malin’s debut The Fine Art of Self Destruction, old pal and sometimes partner in crime) like his Latina guitar and back-ups vocals on the album closer “Aftermath”, and his blistering rock on “Modern World” and “Little Star.” Jesse remarks, “to me it’s all about songs, whether written by Elton John or Wilco or The Bad Brains”.
Jesse finds comfort in the transient life of living out of a suitcase and being under the hot stage lights sweating with the crowd. A Queens born NY native who now resides downtown Manhattan, he grew up touring in punk bands (DGeneration and Heart Attack). He will spend most of the year touring with his new rock band The Heat. Jesse feels that “being in a rock band is like being in a gang. Music should make you want to run through the streets with your pals, or make you want to fall in love or raise a glass.”
Of the live experience, he believes “it is equally, if not more important to the connection, especially in these days of enhanced home entertainment computerized myspace.com addictions. How else can you get people out of their houses today?” he quips. When he performs, it’s about interaction through participation. He gives his fans something to celebrate. When he sits down on the floor among the crowd in mid-song, everyone follows.
“We were born in flames, maiden names, suburban homes, make your bones
Bite your lip, take the fifth, know your rights, it’s your life now
Don’t let them take you down….it’s a beautiful day.”