March 27, 2009

Everything Absent or Distorted takes on NYC with Jesse Malin


The wonderful fellas in Everything Absent or Distorted (my favorite Denver band) played a show in NYC a couple weeks ago — to an audience of “card-carrying members of the East Village punk aristocracy.” Even though they couldn’t fit all 8 members onto the small stage (and spilled into the audience), they undoubtedly gave it their all because they always do. The event at the Bowery Electric was hosted by Jesse Malin and I hear filmmaker Jim Jarmusch was lounging out front. Sweet. At their second New York show two nights later, my correspondent on the scene reported sightings of both Franz Nicolay from The Hold Steady and The National’s drummer Bryan Devendorf, for an exuberantly passionate show as can be expected.

The positive review and attention from the musician community gives me boundless joy; as I wrote in my review of their album, they deserve a bigger stage (literally and figuratively). Let EAOD ring. Good job, boys!

Aquariums – Everything Absent or Distorted

[pic by laurie scavo]

March 10, 2008

Jesse Malin takes a walk on the somewhat wild but mostly acoustic side

Well heck. Here it is Monday night. In addition to the time change creeping up on me, apparently I am also going to forget what day it is and therefore not put the finishing touches on the Monday Music Roundup. Which is now looking like a Tuesday Music Roundup. Terrific!

Jesse Malin‘s cover of the Lou Reed classic “Walk On The Wild Side” surfaced over on the Times UK site today for free download. It’s from his upcoming album of covers, On Your Sleeve, due April 7th on One Little Indian Records.

Walk On The Wild Side – Jesse Malin

It begs for comparison with some of the other other notable covers of this ode to transvestitism, back room darlings, and really smooth bass lines that sound what I would imagine heroin feels like.

Walk On The Wild Side – Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Oh the horror, this was my first exposure to this song. I bought this cassingle from The Wherehouse at Vallco Fashion Park mall, probably with babysitting money. I know all the lyrics; to this day, Annie’s cautionary tale is probably the reason I’ve never done hits that make heartbeats accelerate. She wanted to be a chemical engineer, makin 50 to 55 thousand a year. She took a hit, breathed two short breaths. One for life the last for death. Thanks Marky.

Walk On The Wild Side (live) – The Strokes
Julian Casablancas always sounds like he is singing half-reclined on his counch and can’t be arsed to get up, and I think he comes closest to channeling the delivery of Lou Reed. I love the way the moment in this cover when he hits the line about Jackie juuuuuust speeding away, and then of course that pretty rad guitar solo that Nick Valensi throws on at the end.

Imagine/Walk On The Wild Side – George W. Bush
Dubya gets his thang on, courtesy of some fancy editing from the fantastically entertaining thepartyparty site. Who knew?!

Walk On The Wild Side – Lou Reed
The original, the grandaddy of cool.

February 29, 2008

I don’t need to see Jesse Malin naked ever again

What is and never should be. Totally dig both the song and the album. The pasty nudity not so much — if I wanted to see that, I’d just go step in my own damn shower.

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January 22, 2008

“On Your Sleeve” :: New covers album forthcoming from Jesse Malin

According to the Jesse Malin website: “New record out April 2008 on One Little Indian Records in the UK and Europe, ‘On Your Sleeve.’ Full-length studio album of covers from Elton John to the Hold Steady, 14 songs plus 3 bonus iTunes tracks. Stay tuned for details.”

Iiinteresting. I don’t know what he’s putting on it, but I would guess that this is the Hold Steady cover, and two other tenuous possibilities below:

Jesse Malin at Vintage Vinyl 3/20/07

3 Martini Lunch (Graham Parker cover) – Jesse Malin
Questioningly (Ramones cover) – Jesse Malin

September 11, 2007

“a place where the imperfect could create genius”

If you’ve ever seen New York rocker Jesse Malin in concert, you know that he can tell one heck of a story. He fills in small details and shades his characters in a way that very few other storytellers can replicate. I greatly enjoyed reading his heartfelt tribute in the current issue of NYC’s Village Voice about the late great Hilly Kristal, patriarch of the legendary punk rock club CBGB.

Malin writes in part:

I knew Hilly for more than 27 years, but had very few exchanges with him. I first played the club when I was 12 years old on one of those Monday audition nights. Nobody cared that we were underage. We didn’t pass the audition, but I would eventually play there at least a hundred times. I could never tell if he liked me or not. Then one day, he walked over to the bar on an empty Tuesday night and bought me a beer. We spoke about his time there, and he told me he liked the bands that came back to visit after they had made it big. He told me he liked the Talking Heads because they lifted their own equipment. Maybe he liked me because I was lifting other bands’ equipment with my ‘Man with Van’ schlep rock job.

In the mid-1990s, we were neighbors on what is known as the safest block in New York, East 3rd Street between First and Second avenues (next-door to the Hells Angels). We would occasionally wave to each other from across the way as he’d be walking home with his black leather briefcase. One night, I ran into Hilly at a party at Don Hill’s nightclub: He had told me that he’d just gotten back from Beijing, China. I tried to visualize this Bowery cowboy in the great Red East. I figured he deserved to have some fun, and what else was he going to do with all that T-shirt money?

Read the entire thing here.

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July 17, 2007

New concert video & interview from Jesse Malin at Denver’s Bluebird

I’ve been checking regularly to see when they were going to post the video that they shot at the Denver Jesse Malin show a few weeks ago. Finally, it’s up, and for all the filming (they shot the entire show) there’s about 45 seconds of actual concert footage – the rest is a very interesting interview where he talks about his performance ethic, his songwriting, and how he found himself singing with Springsteen. I’d love to see the rest of the footage they got, but bah. It’s still really good.

No embedding available, so watch it here:

Jesse is also the top feature story in Crawdaddy Magazine this month, and you can read that story here.
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June 18, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

I got to see the fantastic Jesse Malin on Friday night at a criminally under-attended show (perhaps due to the borderline negligent website for the venue/promoter, which didn’t even mention the show). After the show I thanked Malin for the sheer joy in the music that comes out through him when he performs. He is a musician full of heart, who knows how to rock. With an engaging stage presence, the new material sounded tight (balanced with his older songs) and he connected well with most of the crowd. The notable exception being the drunkie heckler in the front row with two bendy, feisty, lady-companions who kept interrupting Jesse during a very promising sounding story about moving a bed with a van in NYC and getting a phone call from Barbra Streisand’s “people.” Jesse utilized his NYC street-skillz with and told ‘em to put a cork in it or leave (deservedly), and we never got to hear the rest of the tale.

Jesse hopped off the stage for his campfire moment where we all sat on the ground in a circle and helped him sing “Solitaire” and braid each others hair and make friendship bracelets. Actually, it had the air of effusive spontaneity (even though it was admittedly contrived for the cameras that were filming the show) and made me feel happy inside. Especially when he sat down right next to me and we all belted, “I don’t need any . . . I don’t need any . . . I don’t need anyONE!!Go see him if you can this tour (oh and check the pics here and mini-video I was able to surreptitiously capture here).

Music for this week:

Long Forgotten Song
The Thrills
The two new songs posted on MySpace by Dublin’s The Thrills are shimmering and lovely, making me look forward to the new album. Even though they are from Ireland, their songs sound like California. This tune, about “a long-forgotten song but everyone still sings along,” sounds somehow like a song you once knew but forgot, and it feels weighty. It’ll be on their upcoming album Teenager, due 7/23/07 with great cover art.

Vanilla Sky
Paul McCartney
I finally watched Vanilla Sky this weekend for the first time (thanks Tony!) and shame on me for it taking me so long. I was scared off by the mixed reviews when it first came out (and a general fatigue of Tom Cruise’s smile) so I never took the plunge, even though it is a Cameron Crowe film and sweet bejesus I love him. Vanilla Sky blew me away — it’s my favorite kind of intelligent reality-bending/brain-messing movie with a marvelous soundtrack. For those who have seen it all the way through, think about the perfect placement of R.E.M.’s “Sweetness Follows” in light of what happens from that point forward in the film, even though you don’t know it at the time. There’s also priiiime placement of the eerie, icy, otherworldly sounds of Sigur Ros and some always-appreciated Jeff Buckley. The credits start rolling with this tune, penned by Paul for the film. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Head Like A Hole (NIN cover)
Giant Bear

Not to be confused with either Giant Drag or Grizzly Bear, Giant Bear is a Memphis five-piece that has decided to reinterpret Trent Reznor’s seething defining moment as a fiddle-twinged bit of Americana-rock with shared male/female vocals. It’s interesting, I’ll give them that, and not unlikeable. Off their self-titled debut album due out August 14 on Red Wax music. Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi All-Stars) and Rick Steff (Lucero) also play on the album.

Fujiya & Miyagi

The first time I heard this song by Fujiya & Miyagi, I pictured it as the perfect soundtrack theme song for the movie of my life when I doll up and head out into the sparkling nighttime streets to wreak some sort of imaginary unspecified havoc. It’s a pimp song, sleek and funky and absolutely irresistible. I don’t know why three guys from Brighton go by Japanese monikers (other than perhaps a partial tribute to Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid?) but I ain’t complainin. From their 2006 album Transparent Things, which I definitely need to investigate further.

The Devil Never Sleeps
Iron & Wine

[let's try this new music stream thing? Let me know if it doesn't work]
There are some songs from Iron & Wine that just devastate me in the best way possible; I think Sam Beam is an amazing songwriter. I thought I knew him, kinda had his sound pegged as the perfect soundtrack to activities like moping, looking out a window at the grey clouds, or falling asleep. So get ready for the sounds on the new album Shepherd’s Dog (due Sept 25 on Sub Pop) — the songs are just as wonderful, but with a heck of a lot more spitfire and pluck. This one sounds like something from another time, floating out the window of a neighbor’s house into the humid summer night. The devil never sleeps because he went down to Georgia and is dancing to this.

Also, a final P.S. on Father’s Day – after an immense father-feteing BBQ at my parents’ house, I dozed off on the couch yesterday afternoon while my dad watched sports on TV. The sports channels are rarely on in my house (unless it’s the Giants), so I had forgotten how comforting and nice it is to weave in and out of sleep on a full belly listening to my dad comment on the game to no one in particular.

May 30, 2007

New b-side from Jesse Malin :: Sister Christian (Where Are You Now?)

If you really want to be honest, I think we’ve all asked ourselves about the current whereabouts of characters from various ’80s hair metal power ballads. Jesse Malin is no different than you and I.

This morning he posits the question to all of us: Sister Christian, where are you now? Night Ranger never sounded like this (although the ‘Mats did). This is a b-side off Malin’s new Broken Radio single (UK), and has that same anthemic rock and roll sound as the rest of the excellent Glitter In The Gutter album. Aside from some incongruous time-shifting in his lyrics here (he is alternately born in 1973, 1984, 1968, 1932) he also manages a few vivid couplets like, “foolin’ around in the dark / back from college with carnal knowledge” and talks a lot about rocking – keep on moving, keep on grooving.

The first anthem of my summer.

Sister Christian Where Are You Now (new b-side) – Jesse Malin

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May 21, 2007

The angels love you more :: Broken Radio video

I am still in San Diego today, so no Monday Music Roundup will be coming. I’ve gotten to speak Italian to a group of folks outside the San Diego Museum of Art, meet a British guy named Usher holding a tiny Pomeranian, bowl and drink beer with my dad, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get a patdown at the airport this afternoon. Oh, and also I got to see my little brother graduate college, which was awesome.

This video is all the music content I can swing this morning, it’s Jesse Malin‘s new song “Broken Radio,” off Glitter in the Gutter, which is really a beautiful tune. It stars Bruce Springsteen and the parts with both of them were just recorded a few weeks ago at Bruce’s house/farm/studio in Colt’s Neck, NJ:

Jesse has foxy eyemakeup. That’s better than mine most days.

April 30, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

Everyone needs a hobby.

A few of my dear readers have found purpose and meaning in facial hair and have started a blog chronicling their moustache progress from April 1 until May 5 (“growing season”), thus joining the Cinco de Moustache movement. Important topics such as “World’s greatest moustaches” (yes, Tom Selleck is in there) and “Take baby pictures of your moustache” are covered. One of these guys won my Stranger Than Fiction book title competition a few months back by saying if he wrote a book of his life, it would be entitled: “Facial Failure: My Everyday Struggle to Grow a Moustache (and Sideburns) that looks neither Pervy nor Predatory.” So there’s a precedent here.

Good luck, men. Be strong. And may the best . . . follicles win?

Music for the growing season:

Amy (Ryan Adams cover)
Mark Ronson
I don’t even know what to think of this concept album as a whole (see tracklist), but darned if I have to admit that I like this reinvention of Ryan Adams as fat-beat bossa nova soul funk from British DJ Mark Ronson. You can dance to it, and I’d never expect it to work but I think it does. Ronson says “With Version, I’ve taken these songs that I love and turned them into Motown/Stax 70′s versions. I keep the utmost respect and appreciation for the original songs I use. I’m just trying to find something in it, add something to the arrangement or change a groove. It’s not like I’m thinking it’s a shit song that I can make good, it’s more like it’s a great song and I’m now going to make it bounce.” Thanks to reader Sara for the download link.

California Saga (On My Way To Californ-i-a)
Beach Boys
With summer coming, everyone should own at least one really good collection of Beach Boys songs. You’ve got myriad albums and repackaged reissues to choose from – I am liking the sunburned harmonies of their newest money grab album release The Warmth Of The Sun. Out May 22 on Capitol, it’s got a few “new stereo mixes,” plus some songs notably featured in popular movies lately (Feel Flows from Almost Famous and Sail On, Sailor from The Departed) and lots of oldie goodies. You really can’t go wrong. I loved this particular song because listening to it was like playing a game of “Have You Ever” with the Beach Boys, with all the places in CA they’re asking if you’ve been.
I was like, “yes, yes, and yes.”

So for those paying attention at home, Los Angeles band Acute (featuring ex-members of Ozma and Poulain) just announced a string of tour dates supporting Jesse Malin. Jesse hasn’t announced these dates yet, but let’s just say . . . I know where I’ll be on June 15. I really like the new Acute album Arms Around A Stranger (May 1, Help Records). It’s produced by Dave Trumfio (Grandaddy, Wilco, My Morning Jacket) and shares some of that golden alt-pop goodness.

Destiny Calling
I can’t believe I haven’t posted this song before, but the advent of the upcoming release of Manchester band James‘ greatest hits double album (Fresh As A Daisy: The Singles, due next month on Universal) gives me just cause. Even though this tune originally came out in 1998 from James (think, “This bed is on fire with passion and love…”) I just heard it fairly recently and it’s been on one of my most-listened-to mixes in the car for months. A song about fame and being loved (and the fleeting nature of those things) set to these melodic jangly chords that I can always picture being hit with a flourish. I also love to sing the opening lines in my best Mancunian accent (that is to say, not very well).

Diamonds In The Dark
Mystery Jets
I’d read the NME yammering on about the hot UK superstars Mystery Jets for months, but didn’t pay much attention until I got their new album (Zootime, on Hollywood’s Dim Mak label May 8) in the mail yesterday. This is the lead-off teack and I find myself enjoying the Morrissey-esque vocals and the thrumming bass line. And then . . . I found out that the lead singer’s dad is in the band. That is so oddball and rad I don’t even know where to start. If I ever started a band and wanted to follow their model that means my dad could join and play trumpet — from his days in the Army. He does a mean Taps.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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