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Magnolia Electric Co.


Kyle
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In honor of Magnolia Electric Co.'s latest Fading Trails I thought I'd start a thread devoted to the music of Jason Molina. Without getting into too much details, here are some of my favorites in his enormous catalouge of work.

Songs: Ohia - The Lioness & Didn't It Rain

These two albums represent Molina at his darkest and yet perhaps his best. The Lioness is an eerie meditation on the pitfalls of romantic love while Didn't It Rain stretches darkness and depression to new heights. The songs drag towards the seven minute mark, yet never seem indulgant. This is minimalism to the best it can be. These are two vastly underrated gems.

Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co.

This was the turning point for Molina. After forging a career of epic slow burners, he goes out and makes a Niel Young influenced, blues inspired, rock record. For long-time fans this one came out of nowhere and it is great. The songs rock and are full of great Crazy Horse-esque hooks. The lyrics are, typical for Molina, great.

Jason Molina - Pyramid Electric Co.

Released at the same time as the the first Magnolia Electric Co. album, it provided the ying to the full band's yang. If I thought his earlier work as Songs: Ohia was minimal, this takes it to a whole new level. Armed only with an electric guitar, minimal piano pounding, and his voice this is a record for midnight at the dead of winter. It's not one you easily warm up to, but given time it gets into your inner fibers.

Magnolia Electric Co. - What Comes After the Blues

To be honest, this one was sort of a let down. After the buzz and the hope created by the album MEC, this one felt a bit haphazzard and unfinished. It wasn't without it's moments, but it just wastn't that strong overall.

Magnolia Electric Co. - Fading Trails

I've only listened to this a couple times, but I like what I hear. After being so well-known for epic songs, all but one song fall under four minutes. The odd thing is, they sound complete. While I've always loved his minimal excess on the quieter songs, and the guitar wankery and the louder ones, this one trims the fat and doesn't seem to suffer for it. It's surprisingly focused for a guy who writes and records albums in a single sitting.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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  • 2 years later...

Songs: Ohia/Jason Molina/Magnolia Electric Co. continue to be one of my favorite bands going. Remarkably prolific MEC have released Josephine, their first album since the 2007 box set Sojourners.

As a loosely structured concept album in response to the death of a former bandmate, it's bleak thematically. Of course, if you listen at all to Molina, you'd probably guess it. But utalizing the piano a bit more than the Crazy Horse-esque riffage of the past few albums, it's a more subtle and lush effort than I'm used to. I'm liking it.

If you're at all into Niel Young or Bonnie "Prince" Billy, it's worth a listen or two.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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Posting so you'll know you're not the only voice in the wilderness.

Although, I came on board very late with Molina; namely, after the name and stylistic shift that is Magnolia Electric Co.

In fact, I still don't own any Songs:Ohia material other than a home-made compilation of rarities prepared by a friend. But for the last few year I've tagged along to several M.E.Co shows with this friend. It's safe to say that by now I've seen more Molina performances than I own Molina recordings.

Just saw him last Wednesday at the 40 Watt in Athens. He's had this band together for several years now and they are a crack unit. If there can be such a thing as an indie Crazy Horse, this is it. They make a beautiful late-night rumble...then Molina cuts above it all with that achingly clear tenor.

The material from Josephine was outstanding, and they played from all the MECo catalog. The main set closed with an immensely satisfying John Henry Split My Heart.

----------------------------

My buddy introduced me to Jason outside the club earlier in the evening, they now recognize each other simply because Randy has been at every performance the man has made in the Carolinas for the last ten years. You mentioned how prolific he is - I listened to them compare notes on what seemed like an endless list of one-off seven inchers, limited releases, stray tracks, etc. All of which my friend has tracked down, naturally.

Then Molina reminded us of the coming project with Will Johnson of Centro-matic, and other things in the works. Many things to look forward to.

Songs: Ohia/Jason Molina/Magnolia Electric Co. continue to be one of my favorite bands going. Remarkably prolific MEC have released Josephine, their first album since the 2007 box set Sojourners.

As a loosely structured concept album in response to the death of a former bandmate, it's bleak thematically. Of course, if you listen at all to Molina, you'd probably guess it. But utalizing the piano a bit more than the Crazy Horse-esque riffage of the past few albums, it's a more subtle and lush effort than I'm used to. I'm liking it.

If you're at all into Niel Young or Bonnie "Prince" Billy, it's worth a listen or two.

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  • 3 months later...

I got Magnolia's Josephine the other day thanks to eMusic's sale on Molina-related albums, and I'm very impressed. I've never heard a full Magnolia/Songs:Ohia album from beginning to end, and I've only made it four tracks in on this one before I went back to the beginning to listen to them again.

From what I'm hearing, this will be on my top 10 this year. I know this album isn't necessarily representative of Molina's overall sound, but I'm loving it.

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From what I'm hearing, this will be on my top 10 this year. I know this album isn't necessarily representative of Molina's overall sound, but I'm loving it.

I'm glad you're liking it.

Also, Josephine is not not representative of Molina's overall sound. Ever since Molina morphed Songs: Ohia into Magnolia Electric Co., he's been moving from a larger Crazy Horse asthetic into a more country influenced one. Basically, any Molina album or song can be categorized into four categories:

1. His bleak, stark minimalistic work. This was resurrected with his collaboration with Will Johnson.

2. His large arena rock songs in the vein of Crazy Horse.

3. His country tinged work, ala Josephine.

4. A more traditional singer-songwriter affair. Granted this has gothic bent and is characterized by Molina's obsession with ghosts, the moon, and lightning.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 years later...

Jason Molina has died.

Rest, Jason.

This has been simply heartbreaking. Not unexpected to hear from some circles, but certainly unexpected by me.

I hesitated to call my friend (who I referenced above) as I did not want to be the person who told him. He and Molina had exchanged letters and packages over the last couple of years.

Of course, he'd already heard.

I am much more familiar with the man's works nowadays, and continued to hold out hope we would see more of Mr. Jason Molina. But it was not to be.

There is a lot out there for anyone who wants to know. I'm not eloquent enough to convince anyone to listen, so I'm going to quote another friend's post in reaction to today's news:

"Songs of myth and darkness and sadness that felt like a comfort."

And then he shared this.

I'm going to suggest listening to Hold On Magnolia (spotify link). Or, watching it.

Or to catch a glimpse of how majestic a band that wears it's Rolling Thunder Revue & Crazy Horse influences can be - see the last 9 minutes of this video:

https://vimeo.com/4494800

Edited by Ward in SC
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