Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Socials - Love it to Life

“To me rock’n’roll is an exorcism that begins every night when the sun goes down, the music starts playing , and the spirits start flowing. It helps to say things to the public over dirty micro phones. It’s a way to spit out the poison.” – Jesse Malin

On his fourth studio record of new material since his days of fronting the New York glam-punk outfit D Generation, Jesse Malin has proved himself to be a rock’n’roll poet. Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Socials “Love it to Life” has more of a rock’n’roll groove rather than the straight up folk or straight pop records he has put out in the past.

The core of the band ended up on the record rather than just Jesse. Jesse Malin states he made a fast and cheap record in true punk rock style that has no fat on it. Back to the idea of five songs per side, the forty four minutes of music cuts right to the chase is a style that is very reminiscent of the Ramones.

It’s just as it sounds, a rock’n’roll social club. “Love it to Life” is not a punk rock record per say but definitely has more rhythmic rocking style. It manages to encompass all elements of the crooning poets past whether it be hardcore, punk rock or singer songwriter.

“Love it to Life” makes big songs important again. Songs are fun, yet real and shoot from the heart. They aren’t arty and weird for the sake of being arty and weird. It’s a fast and loose raw record that is charming from start to finish. Stinging guitars start the record off with the first single “Burning the Bowery” where Jesse talks about burning things down in effort to make them beautiful again. “All the Way From Moscow” is a fast paced catchy sing-a-long and “The Archer” is more reminiscent of something out of the songwriters past. “The Archer” and the fun grooved “Disco Ghetto” are both made great with the assistance of long time friend Ryan Adams and his knack of guitar, piano and fantastic background vocals. D Generation friends Danny Sage and Howie Pyro both lend hands to the record. Sage lends some background on “St. Mark’s Sunset” and “Burn the Bridge”. Where Pyro thumps away on his bass to “All the Way From Moscow”. What kind of came as a surprise where the guest background vocals on “Lowlife in a Highrise” and “Lonely at Heart” come from none other than Mandy Moore. My personal favourite on the record is the fist pumping “Black Boombox”.

I still feel that Malins all time best tracks are on other records. However this record as a whole is the most complete and still a must own.

Looks like Malin moving from Adeline records where Green Day is appreciated but much to busy, to Side One Dummy records that puts out Warp tour compilations, Flogging Molly and The Gaslight Anthem was a great idea.

Do yourself a favour and pick it up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

It's been five years since Broken Social Scene's last album came out. However, they definitely haven't been slacking. During that time, key members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning put out solo albums under the Broken Social Scene Presents banner, auxiliary members continued to dominate the indie rock world in their respective bands (Stars, Metric, Jason Collett, etc) and Feist made an appearance on a little show you may heard of called Sesame Street.

More importantly, the morale amongst the core members of this collective was at an all-time low due to reported friction and in-fighting. So there was a time when the prospect of a new BSS was looking pretty slim.

Well now they're back with the fittingly titled Forgiveness Rock Record. Judging from this triumphant return, it appears that all is now well in the BSS camp. This album is easily the most consistent of the BSS releases, which is largely due to the fact that the collective have pared their core membership down to "only" seven members. However, this IS BSS so over twenty "additional members" and "guests" appear on the album, including Feist, Emily Haines, Amy Millan and Pavement's Spiral Stairs.

"World Sick" opens the album with the lush movie soundtrack atmospherics that BSS have become known for. However, the album is loaded with great SONGS... not just sound snippets that have dominated in the past. What is most evident with Forgiveness is the focus on melody. These songs are definitely busy with layered instrumental backdrops but a dominant melodic line keeps the songs from drifting into self-indulgence. As a result, this is definitely their most accessible album to date.

It is really hard to narrow down just three or four highlights from this album since it is great from start to finish. However, my personal faves are the rocking "Forced To Love," the ambient "All to All," the soulful "Sweetest Kill" and "Sentimental X's," which features Haines, Millan and Feist. This is definitely a strong contender for album of the year so far.

You can check out their performance of "Forced To Love" on The Late Show with David Letterman below.