Music

Jesse Malin Teams with Lucinda Williams on 'Sunset Kids'

Photo: Olivia Jaffe / Courtesy of Big Hassle

New York rocker Jesse Malin's first record in four years blends old and new songs for a strong collection produced by Lucinda Williams.

Sunset Kids
Jesse Malin

Wicked Cool

30 August 2019

Jesse Malin is the true King of New York. First coming on the New York City scene as a teenager in the early 1980s with the hardcore band Heart Attack, he later went on to front the glam-punk legends D Generation, spent time in bands like Bellvue before going solo and collaborating with people such as Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen and Green Day. After releasing two solo records in 2015, Malin released a D Generation reunion record in 2016 and pretty much laid low, except for the 2017 EP Meet Me at the End of the World. Now, he's back with a new record, Sunset Kids, produced by the one and only Lucinda Williams.

Upon the first listen, there are a few things that jump out about Sunset Kids. First, it is a perfect combination of Malin's and William's talents. The songwriting, as expected, is solid. Most of the songs sound like they could be recorded by either artist and sound just as good. Secondly, we've heard some of these songs before. If there is a knock on Jesse Malin, it's that he does tend to reuse songs on multiple records. Three of the 14 songs on Sunset Kids appeared on previous Malin records in different versions. "Meet Me at the End of the World Again" is an update of the 2017 single. The original version of the gorgeous "Promises" was on the 2013 compilation Greatest Bits and "Revelations", one of the best lyrics of Malin's career, has seen versions on 2010's Love It to Life, as well as the 2017 , Meet Me at the End of the World EP.

The focus of the record is the new tracks. Malin is a master lyricist. When he is at his best, he can transport the listener into the song. Few can write a better song of life on the road and the not-so-glamorous hotel life. "Room 13" ranks up there with his classic "Hotel Columbia" as a great example of what touring life really is like. Lucinda Williams adds her harmonies to bring the song over the top. Williams makes appearances on the beautiful "Shane", a tribute to the Pogues Shane MacGowan as well as the smoldering "Dead On". Williams isn't the only familiar voice to show up on the record however, the rocking "Strangers and Thieves" finds Malin dueting with Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong on a track that features some of the best guitar work on the album.

Sunset Kids sees Williams bring out a more grown, reflective Jesse Malin. As a songwriter, Malin has always had two major strengths, the ability to paint a picture with the depth of his lyrics and a sense of melody that makes every song instantly recognizable and memorable. Both of those strengths are at full power here. Sonically, the record is reminiscent of 2015's more laid back Outsiders rather than its harder companion New York Before the War. Malin has found a comfortable fit within the singer-songwriter/Americana genre that Lucinda Williams has made a career in.

Overall this is a strong record. As a longtime fan on Malin's work, I would like to see him concentrate on new songs rather than re-recording some of his classics, but those tracks take little away from this record. The Malin/Williams partnership is a strong one, and you can only hope it continues both in the studio and, hopefully, on the stage.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.