Magnolia Electric Co. is Jason Molina. Of course there’s other people in the band, but the “creative force”/ songwriter/ singer/ whatever else is Molina. Similarly, previously Songs: Ohia was Molina.
A couple weeks ago they released the Sojourner box set, consisting of 4 CDs (3 album-lengths and 1 EP), 1 DVD, a medallion, a nice wooden box and various other things and I picked it up at my first chance. It’s not quite the six albums we were promised, but it’s pretty impressive.
Let’s get the non-music out of the way: the medallion is just silly. Who needs a medallion? But as far as gimmicks go, it’s a pretty good one. The DVD is a fairly interesting tour documentary, though there are many good tour docs out there (the Beulah and Death Cab ones being among the best).
Now for the music. Each disc has its own title. Nashville Moon is the most straight-forward one and it’s a full-band record. Sound-wise, it’s fairly similar to the last few Magnolia Electric Co albums. Shohola is solo, acoustic and pretty sparse. Sun Session is an EP-length disc worth of full band, but pretty subdued material. The Black Ram is possibly the most varied disc, mostly full band but with some pretty sparse material in there. The closer is even noisey, sparse and piano-based. It should also be noted that this isn’t all new material, with tracks like “Hammer Down” and “What Comes after the Blues” being released previously; it should also be noted the versions of these songs that appear here are quite different than the previously-released versions.
Overall, there’s some really great material in here. Shohola is immediately the centerpiece for me. I really like Molina’s solo, sparse stuff and even among that, this is a pretty amazing disc. Nashville Moon took a while longer to sink in but there’s some great songs on this disc and the material on the disc that I don’t love is still good. The Sun Session is short but really lovely. Black Ram is perhaps the only disc that I haven’t absorbed yet. I’m not sure what to make of it yet. There’s some pretty good and straightforward stuff but there’s some more out-there stuff too. The jury’s still out on that disc.
I raved previously about “Shiloh Temple Bell” and I was holding back. I really think this is one of the best songs Molina’s recorded and he’s both prolific and very good at songwriting. Perhaps if you don’t like the spare acoustic stuff, you won’t hear the genius in this, but if you don’t like the spare acoustic stuff what are you doing reading this blog? Here’s some of what I said about it last week:
When I first heard this track I almost forgot where I was, that I was drivingâ€“I needed to hear this song more and I wanted to hear it without interruption at all: just go home, shut my door, shut my eyes and listen to it on repeat. Jason Molina has written some really amazing songs, but thereâ€™s something about this oneâ€“every note, every word, every warble in his voice builds and makes it better. The melody during the chorus and the lyrics throughout are so perfectly melancholy.
Magnolia Electric Co – Shiloh Temple Bell (mp3 removed at request of label)
“No Moon on the Water” is one of about a thousand songs on the set that mentions the moon, as others have noted. This is an dark, aggressive rocker; it almost feels out of control in parts. I love simmering aggression underneath Molina’s warbling vocals about depression. (I just found out that probably a different version of this song came out as a promo 7″ a few years back.
Magnolia Electric Co – No Moon on the Water (mp3 removed at request of label)
“Texas 71” starts and continues slowly, with a very slow fade in. With a organ leading the way and really nice pedal steel floating all over the place, there’s still plenty of space for Molina’s great vocals and melody.
Magnolia Electric Co – Texas 71 (mp3 removed at request of label)
You can buy the set from insound (link removed). Also be sure to check out their extensive free live archive in their site.
The almost continuous Magnolia Electric Co tour stops in the City in a couple weeks:
9/5 Magnolia Electric Co. w/ Golden Boots, The Dying Californian @ Bottom of the Hill, 9pm, $12, a/a
Check out full tour dates after the jump.
8/23 – Bloomington, IN – Bluebird
8/24 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
8/25 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
8/26 – Omaha, NE – Waiting Room
8/27 – Kansas City, MO – Grand Emporium
8/28 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theatre
8/29 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
8/31 – Vancouver, BC – Richardâ€™s On Richards (early show)
9/01 – Seattle, WA – Bumbershoot Festival
9/02 – Portland, OR – Someday Lounge
9/04 – Arcata, CA – Muddyâ€™s Hot Cup
9/05 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom Of The Hill
9/06 – Los Angeles, CA – Echo
9/07 – Pioneer Town, CA – Pappy & Harrietâ€™s Pioneer Town Palace
9/08 – Pioneer Town, CA – Pappy & Harrietâ€™s Pioneer Town Palace (Jason Molina solo)
9/09 – San Diego, CA – Casbah
9/10 – Phoenix, AZ – Modified Arts
9/11 – Tuscon, AZ – Club Congress
9/13 – Austin, TX – Emoâ€™s
9/14 – Oklahoma City, OK – Conservatory
9/15 – Denton, TX – Rubber Gloves
9/16 – Houston, TX – Rudyardâ€™s Pub
9/17 – New Orleans, LA – Howlinâ€™ Wolf
9/18 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone
9/19 – Jackson, MS – Hal & Malâ€™s
9/20 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottle Tree
9/21 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
9/22 – Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
9/23 – Columbia, SC – Columbia Music Festival Association Space
9/24 – Mount Pleasant, SC – Village Tavern
9/25 – Carrboro, NC – Catâ€™s Cradle
9/26 – Charlottesville, VA – Satellite Ballroom
9/27 – Washington, DC – Black Cat
9/28 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
9/29 – New York, NY – The Blender Theatre at Gramercy
9/30 – Portland, ME – Space Gallery
10/1 – Cambride, MA – Middle East
10/2 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
10/3 – Montreal, QC – Pop Montreal at La Sala Rossa
10/4 – Ottawa, ON – Zaphod Beeblebrox
10/5 – Toronto, ON – Leeâ€™s Palace
10/6 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick