Love It To Life, last April's debut from Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social, is a record steeped in tribute. A major source of inspiration for Malin, a singer/guitarist best known for stints in now-defunct Punk bands D Generation and Heart Attack, was his rekindled love for J.D. Salinger and, by proxy, The Catcher in the Rye. In Love It's most prominent example, “The Archer” is spun off of Salinger's interest in sending love letters to females he only knew through magazines or television. Elsewhere on the album, a sense of affection for The Clash also comes through. Intentionally or otherwise, Malin & The St. Marks Social evoke the multi-hued instrumentation of Joe Strummer and company, deftly working its way through hopeful gang chants, boisterous dance songs and chilled-out moments of introspection.
However, the record gives its greatest shout-out to Malin's birthplace, New York City, opening with “Burning the Bowery” and sprinkling it with references to the locale.
“Over the years, you watch things change,” Malin says. “Things die and come back. The record's really about rebirth, that Phoenix act, the resurrection from burning things down. Whether it's terrorists, gentrification, chain stores, bad mayors, bad fashion or bad music, (New York) seems to come back, sometimes in different ways.”
With this notion in mind, Malin took note of an increasing homeless population following the recession, which particularly showed NYC's sense of extremes as so many come to the city for money and fame. Still, you don't need to know the details of the city to properly absorb Love It.
“I don't just write for people that are from Manhattan,” he says. “It's a global thing. Everybody has a problem in their town. This is just my backyard.”