You keep on your eyes on the horizon long enough, you're bound to hit the coast. Jason Molina and the men of Magnolia Electric Co. have explored all realms of classic rock - from the subtleties of folk to charging Crazy Horse meditations. Now, on Rider.Shadow.Wolf. the band brings a surf-rock dynamic to its signature punch. This is where the tired rider, just having battled the desert, meets the eternity of an ocean.
Also found here is a stripped-down, early take of "Josephine" from the band's recent longplayer of the same name. This particular recording of Josephine was laid down just after the song's inception, during the session that will later be released as a collaborative album from Molina and Will Johnson of Centro-matic. This version features Molina and Magnolia utility man Michale Kapinus on keys, and serves as a preview of what's to come in the arch of Molina's career.
Molina's concept album is an honest-to-God effort on the part of Magnolia Electric Co. to pay tribute to the life and spirit of fallen bassist Evan Farrell (R.I.P. December 2007), as the ideas for Josephine were being pieced together. Molina said each tune is a good faith attempt to make real Evan's hopes for the record. And in doing so, Evan's spirit becomes part of the concept. The loss of Josephine becomes the loss of Evan. Molina's familiar lyrical allegories are still in tact. But here, in what is no doubt the strongest set of songs Molina has written since the inception of Magnolia Electric Co., those classic themes take on new meanings. Molina has approached the universal loneliness before, but never in such a focused, directed manner as found on Josephine.
It's been six years since Jason Molina has bestowed a 7-inch on us and it was well worth the wait. The first three songs of It's Made Me Cry, the first 7-inch under the Magnolia Electric Co moniker, are comprised of compositions conceived, written, recorded and mixed by Jason and company over a series of five days in Bloomington, Indiana as they geared up for tour in October '08. The fourth track was recorded at the same studio about a year prior featuring the late great Evan Farrell, a Protection Spell for his new journey.
The voices and moods are diverse and an exciting glimpse of things to come from Magnolia Electric Co.
Jason Molina is not one to settle. Throughout his musical career of 12 plus years under his given name, Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., he has lived in 9 different locations and has had a dozen different backing bands on record in as many different recording environments.
Fading Trails represents 3 of these incarnations and 4 of these environments. Composed of recording sessions Molina and company did with Steve Albini at his Electric Audio Studio, David Lowery at his Sound of Music Studio, and at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, Fading Trails also features songs from the home recorded Shohola sessions. The essence of these recordings were extracted to create one cohesive being and thus defining what Magnolia Electric Co. truly is. Something that is hard to define. One head, multiple bodies...the opposite of a hydra head.
"Working class rock" is a phrase used frequently to describe The Magnolia Electric Co. Categorically, the band has secured their place amongst like-minded icons such as Bob Seger, CCR, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, but it's not merely an aesthetic description. Magnolia back it up with their work ethic. This recording will be their third proper release in 2005 - after Trials And Errors (Jan. 18) and What Comes After The Blues (April 15). Amazingly, The Magnolia Electric Co. will have been on the road eight months by the year's end. This fact is most apparent to the band members themselves having been away from their homes and their loved ones for such extended periods of time. Hence the significance of the title track. When Jason Molina assumes the perspective of the one he left behind on "Hard To Love A Man and sings:
It was hard to love a man like you / Goodbye was half the words you knew / While you were waiting for me not to call / I sent my love
The loneliness and guilt of separation is painfully obvious. The wounded feminine voice of Jennie Benford, coupled with Jason Groth's sweeping guitar and Mike Kapinus' mournful organ dramatically reiterate this sentiment. Mark Rice and Pete Schreiner deliver their signature tight and tasteful rhythm and Nicole Evans adds a new and dynamic voice. While "Hard To Love A Man" and live set favorite, "Werewolves Of London" were recorded with Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio Studios, the rest of the tracks were recorded during a brief five day visit home in Indiana at Echo Park Studios with Paul Mahern whose engineering resume includes The Blake Babies, Lisa Germano and John Mellencamp.
As we watch Magnolia grow, Jason Molina doesn't have to coach us through another one, letting the inmates run the asylum. The Magnolia Electric Co. cast no doubt by putting their business in the street.
On the heels of Magnolia Electric Co's recent limited edition live release, the raw and incendiary Trials and Errors, comes what is perhaps Jason Molina's most fully realized studio project yet. Recorded live-in-the-studio by Steve Albini, What Comes After the Blues captures the simpatico chemistry of Molina's touring band, crackling with connective electricity that can only be generated by the mutual experience of the road. On the writing end of the equation, the song cycle of What Comes After the Blues is a conscious step forward for Molina in songwriting approach and intent. Most of the songs on it were written and arranged on the band's recent relentless touring of Europe and North America. The current incarnation of Magnolia Electric Co is the fullest and longest-running band the former Songs: Ohia frontman has formed so far. These musicians fashion kinetic and organic underpinnings for Molina's thematic quests, with arrangements that carry a primal feel for poetic American rock. In the tradition of Bob Seger, Tom Petty, John Fogerty, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Ronnie VanZant, Molina is revered as being very personal songwriter who is unafraid to be vulnerable in song. And, like those artists, in Magnolia Electric Co, he has his Silver Bullet Band, Heartbreakers, CCR, Crazy Horse, E-Street Band and Skynard to balance the personal nature of the work with rock & roll of just such a collaborative and sublime nature that it defies being pigeon-holed as folk.
Recorded only a few months after they had formed, Trials & Errors captures Jason Molina's new band Magnolia Electric Co. on one magical night in Brussels in 2003. It is a scintillating audio document of one of America's most important contemporary liv e acts evolving into something really special and doing what it does best — whipping an audience into a frenzy. This set captures Molina & Co right after Molina had retired the Songs: Ohia machine in favor of this powerful new vision of his. Two years in the planning process, the new project took its name from the last Songs: Ohia full-length album. Composed of a nucleus of four members, this particular show captures the newly christened band on its first tour in its earliest state. Still a four-piece with Pete Schreiner providing the back beat drum pulse, Mike Kapinus on bass and melancholic trumpet, and the two Jason's dueling over guitar solo space: Molina's down-tuned guitar matching his now settled tenor voice, and Groth's Creedence-channeling rhythm guitar and solos filling out the upper register. The songs are as classic as Molina's fans have come to expect over the course of seven Songs: Ohia full-lengths (between ‘96 and ‘03). With his new band, however, fans can finally enjoy a stable & more-than-able rhythm section that just gets tougher and tougher with each performance. On Trials & Errors, the new Magnolia grinds through three old Molina favorites, three songs which will be released on the upcoming Magnolia Electric Co studio album (out Spring 2005) as well as four songs that will only exist on record in their live form as presented here. Fans may recognize that Trials & Errors comes peppered with an homage or two to Neil Young. One could, in fact, argue that the album is an existential response to Tonight's the Night. While from the songwriting perspective Molina is often pegged as the perennial downer, this is not, like Young’s, a record born out of a series of sudden tragedies, but rather out of a whole life of growing up & out in the Midwest, surrounded by a small town mentality in a wide open space. Join Magnolia Electric Co as they play their part in a long-standing tradition of touring musical artists (Lynard Skynard, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Seger) that capture the spirit of their own homes, traditions and principles and communicate those through the chooglin’ rock of ages on stage for rooms full of empassioned audiences 150+ nights a year. This is all about that wandering spirit, and the longing to wrangle it into place every now & again.