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Jesse Malin Goes Taylor: The New York Punk Re-Records His Debut Album ‘The Fine Art of Self Destruction’

Jesse Malin takes a page out of Taylor Swift’s book and re-records his 2003 solo debut, The Fine Art of Self Destruction. Due Feb. 17 on the MNRK Heavy label, the updated version of the LP features fresh versions of fan favorites like “Riding on the Subway,” “Downliner,” and “High Lonesome.” Some, like “Brooklyn,” have been retitled as well: Malin premieres a video for “Brooklyn (Walt Whitman in the Trash)” today.

Directed by Malin’s longtime bass player Cat Popper and photographer Vivian Wang, the video finds the Lower East Side songwriter reminiscing on a New York that no longer exists. A scene from The Honeymooners (a frequent reference in Malin songwriting) opens the clip, with Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden saying, “I’m sorry, and I hope you forgive me,” before Malin, seated at the bar at Bowery Electric, shuffles through old photos.

“‘The last car on the line’ refers to me and my hardcore friends like Jimmy G. from Murphy’s Law, meeting at the junction of two different subway lines, Flushing and Astoria.  When we were younger, the big dream was to come into the old Apple, New York, and make it happen,” Malin tells Rolling Stone. “We left our small boroughs like Queens and Brooklyn to live on our own and make our lives. We used to see people packing up stuff, throwing away their books and records, not having time to sell them or give them away. In this song, the character has to turn around and go backwards. It’s funny, because now Brooklyn is the first stop where kids come to make the art happen. Things change but the sentiment stays the same.”

Along with the “Brooklyn” video and re-release, Malin will celebrate the LP’s 20th anniversary by performing the album with special guests like Lucinda Williams, Tommy Stinson, and Butch Walker at Webster Hall in New York on March 25th. Other performers include the Pogues’ Cait O’Riordan, Low Cut Connie’s Adam Weiner, Johnny Pisano, and Catherine Popper. Fantastic Cat, the all-star group of Don DiLego, Anthony D’Amato, Brian Dunne, and Mike Montali open.

The updated version of The Fine Art of Self Destruction, produced by Malin’s bandmate Derek Cruz and engineered by Geoff Sanoff, will be available on limited-edition vinyl. Earlier this year, Malin re-released his out-of-print album Glitter in the Gutter, which features the Bruce Springsteen duet “Broken Radio.”

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