Over the past twenty years, Jesse Malin has managed to craft some of the best americana, verging from more mainstream rock to laid back heartbreak  tunes. A sound that takes in Tom Petty, Springsteen, with a twist of Husker Du and Wilco. On his latest album, ‘Sad and Beautiful World’, he’s been inspired by the phrase ‘roots, rock, radicals’. It’s a concept that’s reflected by side one the ‘Roots, Rock’ side containing tunes such as ‘State Of The Art’ with its laid back melodic americana, and lyrics reflecting darker themes and memories of special friend. Then the delicate refrains of ‘Tall Black Horses’ is a pure laidback love song, with acoustic guitars, subtle drums and Malin yearning “someone’s always breaking my heart” and “I’m the man who waits for you”. The brilliant  ‘Lost Forever’ is a cinematic americana slice of heaven, with gentle slide guitars, pianos and Malin aiming venom at long lost relationships stating “you, you never had time for me” and it’s one of the best tunes on here. 

Side two, being inspired more by ‘Radicals’, still has a Malin twist, so rather than being a complete change in musical style (it’s still very melodic and pop-inspired country rock) the radicals seem to be in the characters described lyrically. There’s Malin’s tribute to the hardcore guitarist Todd Youth, with backing vocals from hardcore legend, Bad Brains frontman H.R. who has been a mentor and friend to Malin over the past few years -musically different, yet same rebellious attitude. Then there’s the disco tinged ‘A Little Death’  and the heavy duty guitar work of ‘Dance With The System’ both showing Malin’s great way with melody yet still with one foot firmly in the NY underground scene. Another fine slice of americana rock from one of its finest songwriters.

Jesse Malin: Sad And Beautiful World – Out Now (Wicked Cool Records)


From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.