AotW 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co. RIP Jason Molina

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cortez the killer
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AotW 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co. RIP Jason Molina

Post by cortez the killer »

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To call Jason Molina prolific is an understatement. Dating back to 1997, Molina has released eighteen full-length albums, eight EPs, and numerous singles. He has collaborated with a variety of artists and bands including My Morning Jacket, Will Johnson, and Will Oldham. There is no way I can adequately cover his entire career in an “Artist of the Week” thread. Instead, I have decided to focus on the most recent phase of his musical journey, Magnolia Electric Co., which also happens to be my favorite. I enjoy his earlier material too, especially the studio album Didn’t It Rain and the now-out-of-print live record Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma (Italian for You Came to Me as a Ghost), but, ultimately, I prefer his straightforward, guitar-driven, country-rock style to his lo-fi, stark, folk-leaning musings. In a nutshell, unlike the folks over at Pitchfork, I prefer the Neil Young & Crazy Horse-inspired Molina more than the Drag City-influenced one.

They say misery loves company, so, in a sense, Jason Molina’s decision to abandon his solo career, disguised under the moniker Songs: Ohia, and front a band, makes perfect sense. Magnolia Electric Co., a term that first surfaced as the title of one of his albums, has provided Molina with a vehicle to fill the empty spaces found on many of his Songs: Ohia recordings. When that change officially took place is not exactly clear. The album The Magnolia Electric Co. was marketed by the record company, Secretly Canadian, as a Songs: Ohia release. If you go to your local record store or look for it digitally on iTunes or eMusic, it is filed under Songs: Ohia. However, the term Songs: Ohia is nowhere to be found on the actual album itself. According to Molina, the last Songs: Ohia record was Didn’t It Rain. Additionally, on the Magnolia Electric Company website, the album is listed as a MEC release. If you take the artist at his word, then The Magnolia Electric Co. album is in fact the band’s debut release. Either way, stylistically speaking, it marks a departure from a more a folk-based approach to a blues meets classic rock one. Despite the denser, more muscular direction Molina has taken his muse, the songwriting is still rich with impressionistic explorations of loss, heartbreak, despair, hope, and redemption. His songwriting is peppered with distinctive symbolic language and motifs, most of which are nocturnal - the dark, the moon, stars, ghosts, wolves, owls, horizons, valleys, mountains, water. In an alternative universe, where Molina is a more-recognizable artist, the repeated themes and imagery in his songwriting would open him up to a potential parodizing skit on Saturday Night Live.

Distinctive guitar work… Deeply personal lyrics… Signature falsetto/tenor voice… Varyingly ragged and melodic sound… Two primary styles - acoustic folk and country rock, or amplified hard rock in collaboration with a full band. These are some descriptions of Neil Young I lifted from his Wikipedia article. Interestingly enough, they all accurately describe Molina as well. While I can understand how someone can be a Jason Molina fan and not necessarily a Neil Young fan, I cannot understand how someone can be a fan of Neil Young and not like Jason Molina - particularly his Magnolia Electric Co. phase. The similarities are eerie at times, and while Molina is undoubtedly influenced by Shakey, to peg him as a spin-off of Young would be a gross oversimplification of Molina’s talent, diversity, and artistry. The world is a better, richer place with both artists in it.

In 2009, Molina recorded an album with Will Johnson simply titled Molina & Johnson. Their scheduled tour to support the album was abruptly cancelled due to an undisclosed illness Molina was suffering from. Eighteen months later, there is still no word on Jason’s health. Needless to say, this is incredibly disconcerting. As we celebrate Molina’s genius this week, please keep him in your thoughts and hope for a full recovery soon.

Discography:
Songs: Ohia
Albums
1997 Songs: Ohia (also known as The Black Album)
1998 Impala
1999 Axxess & Ace
1999 The Ghost (tour-only release)
2000 The Lioness
2000 Protection Spells (tour-only release)
2000 Ghost Tropic
2001 Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma (live album)
2002 Didn't It Rain
2003 Magnolia Electric Co.
EPs
1997 Hecla & Griper
1998 Our Golden Ratio
2001 Howler
2001 Travels in Constants
Singles
1996 "Nor Cease Thou Never Now"
1996 "One Pronunciation of Glory"
1999 "Untitled"
2002 "The Gray Tower"/"Black Link to Fire Link"
2002 "Keep It Steady"/"United or Lost Alone"
2004 "No Moon on the Water"/"In the Human World"

Jason Molina
Albums
2004 Pyramid Electric Co.
2006 Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go

Magnolia Electric Co.
Albums
2005 Trials & Errors (live album)
2005 What Comes After the Blues
2006 Fading Trails
2007 Sojourner (box set)
2009 Josephine
EPs
2005 Hard to Love a Man
2009 It's Made Me Cry
Singles
2009 Rider.Shadow.Wolf

Collaborations
Albums
2009 Molina & Johnson
EPs
2002 "Translation" on Split: My Morning Jacket / Songs: Ohia
2002 Amalgamated Sons of Rest with Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts
Singles
1998 "Nay, Tis Not Death" (Alternate) on split 7" with Appendix Out
1999 "Journey On" on split 7" with Oneida
1999 "How to Be Perfect Men" on split 7" with Rex
2000 7" single with Alasdair Roberts
2000 "Fade St." on split 7" with Glen Hansard
2001 "Lioness" on split 7" with Scout Niblett

Live Show Archive (There are a ton of shows for free download here)

The Magnolia Electric Co.
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Long dark blues… Will o the wisp… The big star is falling

“We’re going for a sort of 1950’s sound, ancient echo techniques on the voxs, doo wop back up singers (Jennie Benford, Scout Niblett, Lawrence Peters), dirty guitars, and as usual, as much of this is going to be done live as is possible.”
- Jason Molina

Bob Dylan had Highway 61 Revisited. Neil Young had Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Jason Molina has The Magnolia Electric Co. Up to this point, Molina had occasionally dabbled in electric, full band arrangements with Songs: Ohia. Here, he goes all in. The majority of Songs: Ohia’s previous material consisted of stark, poetic songs accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar. The Magnolia Electric Company blisters and roars in manner that rivals Crazy Horse at the height of their bombastic country-rock heyday. While the Neil Young & Crazy Horse influence here is practically unavoidable, the prolific Molina successfully avoids coming off as derivative. The songwriting is simply too strong to ignore. To help transition to this new sound, Molina enlisted legendary Chicago-based producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, P.J. Harvey, Cheap Trick) to fill in the spaces with sound. Together they crafted one of the finest records ever put to tape. Anchored by the epics “Farewell Transmission” and “John Henry Split My Heart,“ this album is simply a beast with its search for “real truth”, regret, doubt, past mistakes, trying to make changes, and singing those long, dark blues. Throughout the album we are introduced to Molina’s ghost, which is referred to not only lyrically, but is ever-present with ghostly-sounding harmonizing and guitars that howl and wail. As prolific an artist as Molina is, this album is his finest moment.

Mp3 - Farewell Transmission



Trials and Errors
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You got still something to say about it?

Recorded in Brussels only a few months after the band formed in 2003, Trails and Errors is a live record of gritty, country/rock epics that bristle with intensity. Rugged guitar workouts made famous by guitar heroes like Neil Young, John Fogerty, and Warren Haynes dominate the record. At times the guitars resemble an eighteen-wheeler abruptly downshifting and you frequently get the sense they are about to combust. The Neil Young & Crazy Horse comparisons that are linked to Magnolia Electric Co. move beyond the music and spill directly into the lyrics. Toward the end of “Almost Wasn’t Good Enough,” Molina sings several verses from Shakey‘s “Out of the Weekend.” He later breaks into “Tonight’s the Night” on the closer, “The Big Beast.” In describing the album, MEC’s label (Secretly Canadian) makes the claim, “One could, in fact, argue that the album is an existential response to Tonight's the Night.” The juxtaposition of Molina’s delicate, vulnerable vocals and the feverish guitars that sound like they are about to explode is amazing. I enjoy live music, but typically I’m really not crazy about live albums. This one is a rare exception. The passion and intensity from that evening in Brussels jumps out of the speakers. Trials and Errors is a live record for the ages.

Mp3 - Don’t This Look Like the Dark



What Comes After the Blues
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When it’s been my ghost on the empty road, I think the stars are just the neon lights shining through the dance floor of heaven on a Saturday night.

I wandered so aimless, life filled with sin
I wouldn't let my Dear Savior in
Then Jesus came like a stranger in the night
Praise the Lord I saw the light

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord - I saw the light

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

I was a fool to wander and stray
Straight is the gate and narrow the way
Now I have traded the wrong for the right
Praise the Lord, I saw the light

I saw the light, I saw the light
No more darkness, no more night
Now I'm so happy, no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.

- Hank Williams “I Saw the Light”

On the opening “The Dark Don’t Hide It,“ What Comes After the Blues picks up where The Magnolia Electric Co. and Trials & Errors left off - dense, electric guitar-fueled, Crazy Horse-inspired rock. After previously appearing on the live album Trials & Errors, the barn burner makes its studio debut. The ragged, distorted guitars set the mood for such dark musings as “Now the world was empty on the day they made it. But heaven needed someplace to throw all the shit.” From here, Molina & Co. abruptly switch gears. The remaining songs on What Comes After the Blues are far more restrained. While the band never ramps it back up to 11 on the remaining 7 songs, they are still more layered than much of Molina’s sparse folk offerings via the former Songs: Ohia. The electric guitars take a back seat. Instead, strings, slide guitar, pedal steel, banjo, violin, trumpet, and piano are welcomed into the mix, creating a stronger country flavor. The steel guitar in particular has a howling effect that evokes one of Molina’s dominant songwriting images - ghosts. The decision to take things in a more country direction is no accident either, as the inspiration for album’s theme is taken directly from the Hank Williams song “I Saw the Light.“ On the advice of a friend who knew how much I love Neil Young, this was my entry point into MEC & Molina’s catalog. From the minute I heard the opening distorted guitar of “The Dark Don’t Hide It,” I was hooked.

Mp3 - The Dark Don’t Hide It



Hard To Love a Man
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I have got my shit together and I am ready to go.

This is five-song EP consisting of one previously-released song (“Hard to Love a Man”) from What Comes After the Blues, three unreleased originals (“Bowery,” “Doing Something Wrong”, & “31 Seasons in the Minor Leagues”), and a Warren Zevon cover (“Werewolves of London”). Considering the fact that 2005 saw the release of the live Trials and Errors and the debut (depending on how you look at it) studio recording What Comes After the Blues, the decision to release this EP in the same calendar year is a bit curious. Nonetheless, it is a solid collection of songs, with the Zevon cover falling a bit flat and the unreleased material strong - “Doing Something Wrong” being the standout track. I imagine only the completists would hunt this one down.

Mp3 - Doing Something Wrong



Fading Trails
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North Star finds the crossroad, though I walk always away from it. Pale moon lights the rocky shore, though I always head straight for it.

After two stellar studio albums working with Steve Albini, Molina mixes things up a little on Fading Trails. He sticks with Albini in Chicago on a handful of tracks (“Don‘t Fade on Me,” “Montgomery,” “Lonesome Valley“), adhering to a similar formula used on the previous three records. He enlists David Lowery to produce two songs (“A Little At a Time” & “The Old Horizon”) and records them in Richmond, VA. “Memphis Moon” and “Talk to Me Devil Again” were recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. The final two cuts (“Spanish Moon Rise and Fall” & “Steady Now”) are solo Molina home recordings. As a result, Fading Trails has a patchwork feel. In this regard, the album reminds me a bit of Neil Young’s American Stars ‘n’ Bars. In hindsight, this album actually serves as a sampling of material that winds up on the 2007 Sojourner box set. Either that, or Molina was inspired to do the box set to showcase the breadth of the four recording sessions that went into making this album.

Mp3 - Lonesome Valley



Sojourner
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Referred to by Molina as a “gift to the fans,” Sojourner, released in 2007 and limited to 5,000 copies, is a box set that quickly went out-of-print, but is still available digitally as a two-disc set. It is comprised of 4 discs and a short documentary on DVD. Disc 1, or Nashville Moon, was recorded in July 2005 at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini. Disc 2, The Black Ram, was recorded at Sound of Music in Richmond, VA and produced by David Lowery. The Sun Session EP was recorded one day in March 2006 at Sun Studios in Memphis. And the final disc, Shohola, was recorded at home by Jason Molina. The physical box set included “The Road Becomes What You Leave” DVD, a film by Todd Chandler and Tim Sutton documenting Magnolia Electric Co.’s trek across the prairie provinces of Canada. When I started assembling this feature, I had a link to the video. However, it has since been taken down. If you are unfamiliar with Magnolia Electric Co., Sojourner is a very good place to start.

Nashville Moon (Disc 1)
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Sometimes I forget how I’ve always been sick and I don’t have the will to keep fighting it.

Recorded in Chicago with Steve Albini, this disc is classic MEC - straightforward country and blues tinged rock and roll masterfully written and executed. Some of the material (“Lonesome Valley,“ “Montgomrey,“ and “Don’t Fade on Me”) previously appears on Fading Trails. “Hammer Down” made its debut in acoustic form on What Comes After the Blues, but is reworked here electrically. On the flip side, the previously-released, ear-splitting electric workout of “Don’t This Look Like the Dark” on Trials and Errors is now a bouncy country shuffle. Another Trials and Errors song (“North Star”) is also stripped down here. And “Bowery” is pulled from 2005’s Hard to Love a Man EP. The remaining songs (“No Moon on the Water,” “Nashville Moon,” “What Comes After the Blues,” “Texas 71,” and “Down the Wrong Road Both Ways”) were previously unreleased. All the unreleased material is excellent, but I can’t for the life of me understand how or why “What Comes After the Blues” was left off the album with the same title. It’s one of my favorite MEC songs.

Mp3 - Montgomery

Black Ram (Disc 2)
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My heart is sick and I didn’t make it out.

Referred to by Molina as his “Goth“ album, The Black Ram was recorded at Sound of Music by David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker). Sonically, this disc is a departure from the direction Molina had gone with Magnolia Electric Co. The music here is much more atmospheric. The density on the previous MEC recordings gives way to bigger, open spaces, creating an eerie, spooky vibe (the sound of the creaky gate on “The Old Horizon“ sends chills up my spine). By deemphasizing the muscular country/blues/rock vibe that defines much of Magnolia Electric Co.‘s sound, Molina pleases those fans who pine for the early days of Songs: Ohia. Other than “A Little At a Time” and “The Old Horizon,” the songs on The Black Ram are previously unreleased.

Mp3 - The Old Horizon

Sun Session EP (Disc 3)
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You might be holding the last light I see before the dark finally gets a hold of me.

Sun Sessions was recorded in one day at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. The band was compensated for a gig with a free day of recording at Sun Studios. This EP is how they decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Two of the songs (“Talk to Me Devil, Again” & “Memphis Moon”) appeared on Fading Trails. “Hold on Magnolia” is slowed down and shortened from its original appearance on The Magnolia Electric Co. and “Trouble in Mind” is a cover.

Mp3 - Trouble in Mind

Shohola (Disc 4)
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I leave the road with the ghost of the road.

Recorded solo in Jason’s home, this disc contains two previously-released tracks from Fading Trails (“Steady Now” & Spanish Moon Fall and Rise”). The remaining six tracks are unique to Sojourner. This is as stark as Molina gets. It’s not my favorite style of his, but his lonesome voice is well-suited for these naked, vulnerable lo-fi recordings.

Mp3 - Spanish Moon Rise & Fall



Josephine
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I lived so long with the shadows, Lord I became one of them.

After a three-year studio album hiatus, Molina & Co. return with an album that sounds like a progression from the direction cultivated on Sojourner’s The Black Ram. Which is to say, this is less like a 70’s classic rock record (or more specifically - Neil Young & Crazy Horse). Interestingly enough, Steve Albini is still at the helm here. The sound may be slightly different from previous MEC releases, but the familiar lyrical themes are still present - ghosts, horizons, darkness, crossroads, stars. Hanging over the writing and recording of this album was the tragic passing of the band’s touring bassist, Evan Farrell, who was the victim of an apartment fire in Oakland, CA. In interviews, Molina has been hesitant to call it a tribute to Farrell, but considering the somber sound and lines like “Filled with tears and twilight from a friend’s dying day. Here’s a turkey feather for his favorite hat and a love letter from the ace of spades.“ it’s hard to not believe Farrell’s unexpected death significantly influenced this album. Despite the somber vibe, Josephine is the most melodic album in the MEC catalog and features some excellent harmonizing.

Mp3 - Josephine

Making of Josephine Video
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bovine knievel
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by bovine knievel »

I am not too familiar with Jason Molina other than a few songs I've heard through the years. Thanks for the detailed post and sharing some samples.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Clams »

Passionate, thorough and well done (as usual), Cortez. Thanks.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by dogstar »

Cortez great write up - your passion for the band really comes through.

This is one of those artists I've always meant to investigate but never got round to. And now I've at least got some idea where to start.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by StevieRay »

Thanks Cortez - I am putting this on right now:
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cortez the killer wrote:The Magnolia Electric Company blisters and roars in manner that rivals Crazy Horse at the height of their bombastic country-rock heyday. While the Neil Young & Crazy Horse influence here is practically unavoidable, the prolific Molina successfully avoids coming off as derivative. The songwriting is simply too strong to ignore.


Very well said

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by StevieRay »

I had the extreme pleasure to catch these guys a couple of summers ago at The Hideout in Chicago. They blew the roof off the place. TC can corroborate - it was phenomenal stuff. Joelle was there too.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Duke Silver »

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Awesome write-up of one of my favorite bands that I don't really know much about outside of a handful of records. Learned a lot from this post.

It's thunderstorming here today. Good day to put on What Comes After the Blues?, I think.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by shuffle »

I'm gonna read this thoroughly when I've got some time on my hands. Just read saw the line "Eighteen months later, there is still no word on Jason’s health." when I scrolled through it, and there's been some news although it isn't much. Last summer he was said to be doing a lot better but still being sick, and he performed a one-off show in London last summer too (I think, may have been last fall) as a replacement for someone else. It's a little more hopeful but still worrying that we haven't heard more...
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by 3milelake »

Brilliant read. Well done. Time to revisit now.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by scotto »

Excellent job.
My first introduction was Songs: Ohia's "Steve Albini's Blues" from the Another Country 2 compilation. Then I came across the Daytrotter sessions...

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http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/magnolia-electric-co-concert/20030931-37382065.html

...and started working my way backward.
Nice stuff.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by dime in the gutter »

i've been looking forward to this one. great job cortez.

introduced to mec/molina thru 9b. cortez and woodrow steered me to songs:ohia-magnolia electric company. one of my favorite bands and still learning more. working my way thru their/his immense catalog....have yet to be anything but flabbergasted at the music.

currently absorbing discs 3&4 from sojourner.

looking forward to re-reading your aotw post with a keen eye. thanks for a fantastic write up.

the following link is from bama public tv show we have signal.

magnolia electric company performances at the bottletree cafe in b'ham and interviews with jason molina. check it out. great footage.

http://vimeo.com/4494800

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by lajakesdad »

I'm a big fan of MEC. My sister's douchebag boyfriend introduced me to them when What Comes After the Blues came out. I have all their stuff and prefer the more upbeat songs. Sometimes those slow, depressing songs can get to you. I have to be in the right mood. But I find myself in that mood often. Those haunting melodies are great. The videos they had out when they were in the studio making Josephine are really cool. It's amazing how spontaneous it all comes to him.

awesome as always CTK

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by 'Scratch »

Dammit, if you're going to set the bar so high I'm withdrawing my AOW volunteership. I might have to print this one and read in the "library". Damn fine work.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Smitty »

Great write-up - took me awhile to get into Molina and I'm not a fanatic like some of yall but I do have a great appreciation for his work. He's definitely got the spook.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Duke Silver »

Couple of great quality videos from a 2007 show:

"What Comes After the Blues?"


"Hammer Down"
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by cortez the killer »

dime in the gutter wrote:the following link is from bama public tv show we have signal.

magnolia electric company performances at the bottletree cafe in b'ham and interviews with jason molina. check it out. great footage.

http://vimeo.com/4494800

Awesome link/video. I saw them on that tour (supporting Josephine). Molina's guitar broke as he was furiously hammering away on it during the first encore ("I've Been Riding With a Ghost"). He was visibly upset and cut the show after that.

* Edited to add that rendition of "John Henry Split My Heart" is goosebump-inducing.
Last edited by cortez the killer on Tue May 10, 2011 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by tinnitus photography »

one of the coolest covers i've ever seen was Molina doing "Running With The Devil" and the guy playing steel guitar did an ace job w/ EVH's solo.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Iowan »

I picked up "What Comes After the Blues?" and "Sojourner". Haven't gotten to "Sojourner" yet, but "What Comes After the Blues?" is just killer. "Dark Don't Hide It" is one of the best songs I've heard in awhile.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by tinnitus photography »

can we talk Songs:Ohia in this thread?

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by cortez the killer »

tinnitus photography wrote:can we talk Songs:Ohia in this thread?

You can "talk" about whatever you want. Considering Songs: Ohia is essentially Jason Molina and a revolving group of musicians, I would say a Songs: Ohia discussion is very appropriate. Just no breast cup comparisons please.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by jimmyjack »

I cannot understand how someone can be a fan of Neil Young and not like Jason Molina


Well, that'd be me. Dude went from mercilessly ripping off Will Oldham to mercilessly ripping off Neil Young. He's always struck me as little more than an above average mimic. You damn him with faint praise: many of the attributes you mention - the 'eerie similarity' to Neil, the repeated themes cycled and recycled ad nauseum - are the very reasons I absolutely can't stand this guy. I don't hear a lot of Jason Molina in his music, just Jason Molina's (apparently very small) record collection. Sorry - major dud in my book. To each his own!

To be fair, I'll listen to some of these samples on this thread when I get some time and see if I'm swayed any. In any case, good, well-written post as usual. Love these threads.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Penny Lane »

Duke Silver wrote:Couple of great quality videos from a 2007 show:

"What Comes After the Blues?"


"Hammer Down"


Hammer Down was the first song I put on my 9B mix! Love him and love this band, great write up, not all the way through it but had to skip ahead to some clips. Thanks, Cortez. Looks like I have a ton more albums to pick up..didn't know there was so much stuff out there...
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Fatah Ruark »

One of the few bands I like more than DBT.

The Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. album is certainly in my top 10 albums of all time.

I still prefer DBT live, but overall MECo is hard to beat IMO.

Jason Molina is hugely under-rated as a songwriter.

Sounds like he's been sick for the past year or so. I'm so used to a release from him in some sort or another that I've been having withdraws lately. Hopefully he releases something soon, even if it's just from the archives (which I understand are pretty substantial).

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StevieRay
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by StevieRay »

Here's an indie video for the song "Leave The City" which somehow has 36k hits on youtube. These well edited scenes of anonymous Chicago cityscape seem just right to me:

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cortez the killer
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by cortez the killer »

jimmyjack wrote:
I cannot understand how someone can be a fan of Neil Young and not like Jason Molina


Well, that'd be me. Dude went from mercilessly ripping off Will Oldham to mercilessly ripping off Neil Young. He's always struck me as little more than an above average mimic. You damn him with faint praise: many of the attributes you mention - the 'eerie similarity' to Neil, the repeated themes cycled and recycled ad nauseum - are the very reasons I absolutely can't stand this guy. I don't hear a lot of Jason Molina in his music, just Jason Molina's (apparently very small) record collection. Sorry - major dud in my book. To each his own!

To be fair, I'll listen to some of these samples on this thread when I get some time and see if I'm swayed any. In any case, good, well-written post as usual. Love these threads.

While I can understand how you come to these conclusions regarding Molina, I just think the songwriting is too damn strong to dismiss him as a small record collection-owning, rip-off artist.
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cortez the killer
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by cortez the killer »

StevieRay wrote:Here's an indie video for the song "Leave The City" which somehow has 36k hits on youtube. These well edited scenes of anonymous Chicago cityscape seem just right to me:

Broke my heart to leave the city
I mean it broke what wasn’t broken in there already
Thought of all my great reasons for leaving
Now I can’t think of any
It’s true it was a hard time that I’ve come through
It’s made me thankful for the blues
Half my life spent on a highway
Half my life I didn’t choose
And I have seen the North Star
Shining in the freight yard
And I knew it was a hard time that it’d come through
It’s made him thankful for the blues
It broke my heart to know you waited
I had so many things to do
It’s true as far as a lot of stuff
You could have had a little better luck
You just called and just hung it up
One of us has had enough
It’s true as far as a lot of stuff
You could have had a little better luck
You just called and just hung it up
Baby both of us have had enough


Awesome video. Thanks for posting SR.
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by jimmyjack »

OK, so "Don't This Look Like The Dark" is pretty righteous. Maybe there's hope for me yet. That Neil Young guitar tone still drives me crazy though - it's so conspicuous. Great song though, can't really deny that. Hmmmm...

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dime in the gutter
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by dime in the gutter »

cortez the killer wrote:
Trials and Errors
Image
You got still something to say about it?

Recorded in Brussels only a few months after the band formed in 2003, Trails and Errors is a live record of gritty, country/rock epics that bristle with intensity. Rugged guitar workouts made famous by guitar heroes like Neil Young, John Fogerty, and Warren Haynes dominate the record. At times the guitars resemble an eighteen-wheeler abruptly downshifting and you frequently get the sense they are about to combust. The Neil Young & Crazy Horse comparisons that are linked to Magnolia Electric Co. move beyond the music and spill directly into the lyrics. Toward the end of “Almost Wasn’t Good Enough,” Molina sings several verses from Shakey‘s “Out of the Weekend.” He later breaks into “Tonight’s the Night” on the closer, “The Big Beast.” In describing the album, MEC’s label (Secretly Canadian) makes the claim, “One could, in fact, argue that the album is an existential response to Tonight's the Night.” The juxtaposition of Molina’s delicate, vulnerable vocals and the feverish guitars that sound like they are about to explode is amazing. I enjoy live music, but typically I’m really not crazy about live albums. This one is a rare exception. The passion and intensity from that evening in Brussels jumps out of the speakers. Trials and Errors is a live record for the ages.


i like this part. well done.

intentional or not, trials and errors live lp takes the ny/crazy horse influence deal and kinda smashes it to bits in an unexplicable way. part exorcism of some inner demons/part homage......very tough to pull that off w/o coming across as a douche tag. dude nails it.........it is a big, beautiful, sprawling, bad ass rock and roll record. lyrically, bro is in a dark space all his own. totally consumed.

love that record.

john smith....founding member and guitar god of the dexateens had a great answer to a question about being influenced by neil. said it was like asking a fish how it is influenced by water....(or something like that) he said it better.

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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by Penny Lane »

cortez the killer wrote:
Bob Dylan had Highway 61 Revisited. Neil Young had Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Jason Molina has The Magnolia Electric Co. Up to this point, Molina had occasionally dabbled in electric, full band arrangements with Songs: Ohia. Here, he goes all in. The majority of Songs: Ohia’s previous material consisted of stark, poetic songs accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar. The Magnolia Electric Company blisters and roars in manner that rivals Crazy Horse at the height of their bombastic country-rock heyday. While the Neil Young & Crazy Horse influence here is practically unavoidable, the prolific Molina successfully avoids coming off as derivative. The songwriting is simply too strong to ignore. To help transition to this new sound, Molina enlisted legendary Chicago-based producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, P.J. Harvey, Cheap Trick) to fill in the spaces with sound. Together they crafted one of the finest records ever put to tape. Anchored by the epics “Farewell Transmission” and “John Henry Split My Heart,“ this album is simply a beast with its search for “real truth”, regret, doubt, past mistakes, trying to make changes, and singing those long, dark blues. Throughout the album we are introduced to Molina’s ghost, which is referred to not only lyrically, but is ever-present with ghostly-sounding harmonizing and guitars that howl and wail. As prolific an artist as Molina is, this album is his finest moment.

Mp3 - Farewell Transmission



I love this album, especially John Henry and Almost was good enough "almost no one makes it out.." Finally got through this post, great job Cortez. The only other albums I have are Sojourner Sun Sessions and Nashville Moon..I've got a lot of catching up to do.
In my blood, there's gasoline..

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cortez the killer
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Re: Artist of the Week 5/8/11 - Magnolia Electric Co.

Post by cortez the killer »

Penny Lane wrote:
cortez the killer wrote:
Bob Dylan had Highway 61 Revisited. Neil Young had Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Jason Molina has The Magnolia Electric Co. Up to this point, Molina had occasionally dabbled in electric, full band arrangements with Songs: Ohia. Here, he goes all in. The majority of Songs: Ohia’s previous material consisted of stark, poetic songs accompanied by little more than an acoustic guitar. The Magnolia Electric Company blisters and roars in manner that rivals Crazy Horse at the height of their bombastic country-rock heyday. While the Neil Young & Crazy Horse influence here is practically unavoidable, the prolific Molina successfully avoids coming off as derivative. The songwriting is simply too strong to ignore. To help transition to this new sound, Molina enlisted legendary Chicago-based producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, P.J. Harvey, Cheap Trick) to fill in the spaces with sound. Together they crafted one of the finest records ever put to tape. Anchored by the epics “Farewell Transmission” and “John Henry Split My Heart,“ this album is simply a beast with its search for “real truth”, regret, doubt, past mistakes, trying to make changes, and singing those long, dark blues. Throughout the album we are introduced to Molina’s ghost, which is referred to not only lyrically, but is ever-present with ghostly-sounding harmonizing and guitars that howl and wail. As prolific an artist as Molina is, this album is his finest moment.

Mp3 - Farewell Transmission



I love this album, especially John Henry and Almost was good enough "almost no one makes it out.." Finally got through this post, great job Cortez. The only other albums I have are Sojourner Sun Sessions and Nashville Moon..I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Thanks Penny. I think your next best bet would be to hunt down What Comes After the Blues.
You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
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