Tag Archives: Jason Molina

New Goshen Electric Co video: Ring The Bell

Video: Goshen Electric Co. – “Ring The Bell”

Single out now on Secretly Canadian.

Here’s the b-side of the single that Strand of Oak’s Tim Showalter recorded with the members of Magnolia Electric Co (Mike Benner, Jason Evans Groth, Mikey Kapinus, Mark Rice, Peter Schreiner).

Help does not just walk up to you, I could have told you that
I’m not an idiot

Jason Molina’s lyrics have a way of just punching you in the gut. It was bad enough when he was alive, but since we know how the story ends they’re even more heartbreaking.

I am thankful I had the chance to see Magnolia in concert a couple of times back in the day. The first show I saw was at the Abbey Pub in 2006 and I clearly remember thinking that this guy was feeling things too deeply for his own good. Molina was good-natured and charming but as soon as he started singing you could feel his pain. His guitar playing was equally expressive.

Showalter’s tribute is a worthy celebration of Molina’s craft. It doesn’t make the loss hurt any less, but it helps us remember how lucky we were to have him in our world, however briefly.

Magnolia Electric Co.: amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Goshen Electric Co video: Ring The Bell

New Goshen Electric Co video: The Gray Tower

Video: Goshen Electric Co. – “The Gray Tower”

Single b/w “Ring the Bell” due November 2 on Secretly Canadian.

Goshen Electric Co. is what happens when Strand of Oak’s Tim Showalter spends a half a day in the studio with the members of Magnolia Electric Co (Mike Benner, Jason Evans Groth, Mikey Kapinus, Mark Rice, Peter Schreiner).

The digital single will include an extended, nine-minute version of “Ring the Bell” from Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain (2002) and Magnolia Electric Co.’s Trials & Errors (2005).

It’s been more than five years since Jason Molina died and it hasn’t started hurting any less. Showalter feels the loss as deeply as anybody. “There was such an intimate relationship with his music -– it felt a lot deeper than just liking a song,” he’s said. “You live in these songs.”

Showalter and the band toured Europe, calling themselves “Songs: Molina – A Memorial Electric Co.” This seems like an appropriate tribute to a singer and songwriter who is terribly missed.

Magnolia Electric Co.: amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Goshen Electric Co video: The Gray Tower

Magnolia Electric Co. – What Comes After the Blues

Magnolia Electric Co.What Comes After the Blues (Secretly Canadian)

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. He sounds like Neil Young. And what’s with all the hub-bub about the name changes? What’s the difference between Songs:Ohia, Pyramid Electric Co. and Magnolia Electric Co.? Why didn’t he just use his own name anyway? Who is this Jason Molina trying to fool?

Honestly, I could care less about all the tertiary items that surround this band. At the core, it’s the music that matters. And what we’ve got on our hands here is a damn fine album, with quality songs, earnestly performed by a great band. At times What Comes After the Blues seems a little self conscious, as if Molina and friends carry the weight of their fans’ expectations with them into the studio.

And while it might be easy to dismiss them as derivative of their influences and of themselves, what’s the point in that? There are elements within this album that signal Molina’s growth both artistically and personally – his comfort with relinquishing the control of a solo artist by stepping away from faux band moniker he hid behind for so long and fully embracing this group, tackling issues of loss and resolution, exposing himself to his demons: “No one should forgive me / I knew what I stood to lose / Am I better off now just forgetting / how I came to earn the North Star blues?”

What Comes After the Blues is a truly sad and beautiful album that serves as a downbeat musical wake for Molina’s past personas. It takes you to some uncomfortable places, but always reassures you’re never alone and that things will work out if you just give it a chance.

You can download “The Dark Don’t Hide It” and “Leave the City” courtesy of Secretly Canadian.

Jason Molina – Pyramid Electric Company

Jason MolinaPyramid Electric Co (Secretly Canadian)

Sometimes we expect too much from our favorite musicians. Songs: Ohia holds a special place in my CD changer. However, Jason Molina has opted to drop the name Songs: Ohia and release a solo album. No big deal. Well, he also decided to drop the backing band that unleashed a 45-minute assault of blues guitar driven and lyrically brilliant rock on Magnolia Electric Co in 2003. No big deal. The formula of just Molina and a guitar or piano worked wonders in 2002 on Didn’t It Rain. Unfortunately, Pyramid Electric Co does not produce the same hair-rising, soul-searching moments of Didn’t It Rain. And you won’t find a “Farewell Transmission” or “Just Be Simple Again,” two of the more transcendent moments from Magnolia Electric Co.

Instead, Molina has released an underwhelming sleeper, that is bookended by two dark and undeniably haunting songs. “Pyramid Electric Co.” leads this off with a deep ringing guitar chord and Molina sternly pronouncing “A sickness sank into the little one’s heart / mama said son / that’s just the cold / that’s the emptiness / it’s being alone in the dark.” The song fades out with the same guitar chord being fiercely struck over and over again resonating through your chest. It’s reminding you someone is not coming back. Their bones are turning to ash. This song is one of the most powerful album openers your ears will have to reckon with. His voice can barely be heard in the background chanting “Dark repetition.”

Right when you’re convinced it’s the same old Molina you are dealt two songs that are promising, but ultimately failures. “Red Comet Dust” comes and goes without ever developing into the contemplative star gazer that lyrics such as “I want to be true / like the solid earth” would have you believe. Rather, a piano key is struck slowly sounding more like the tightening of a vice grip around your head than an actual song. Molina puts more heart into “Division St. Girl,” but is only going through the motions. He presents some of his best lyrics, and reading over them it’s clear Molina is a poet with few, if any peers. Not until he lets loose with “It’s like we’ve landed on the enemy site / the other guys all quit / they left us with nothing when they split” are you reminded of how phenomenal this guy can be. Had this much urgency been placed in the entire song the listener would be reaching for the tissue box.

Secretly Canadian released Pyramid on vinyl, and the second highlight came when I got to flip to side 2. Only because side 1 became a thing of the past and it wouldn’t be a lot of hard work to find track 1 again. Yet, Molina presents us with “Honey, Watch Your Ass.” A promising title with a decent enough chord that tires after the first couple of minutes and brings about the unfortunate trend of side 2: Molina whispering. He’s given up singing his lyrics at this point but forces you to press your ear to the speaker. None more so than on “Song of the Road” which dares ask “You think this is hard work? You’ve never seen hard work.” Well, shit, Jay-Dog, you’ve never seen me listening to this album.

I’m not even going to comment on “Spectral Alphabet.” Whispering, a silly little guitar chord, blah blah blah. But then there is “Long Desert Train.” Hold this song close to your heart. Because it’s one of two things here that will allow you to believe this album is just a miscalculation. The whispering stops and the singing that brings goose bumps returns. Sure, it’s just Molina and a guitar for the seventh time in a row, but it’s really him this time. “I guess your pain never weakened / your cool blood started burning / scorching most of us in the flame.” He’s dead serious on “Long Desert Train” and each time it comes on I know he’s singing to me. Which is what has always made Molina so fascinating to listen to. You play his songs and think he’s been peering in on your life and knows how to turn your tragedies into complete heartbreakers.

So I’ll continue to wait for the next release. Hell, the last line Molina delivers is “You almost made it again.” And of course he’s talking to himself. Because the sad truth is there is no one else there to listen.

Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co

Songs: OhiaMagnolia Electric Co (Secretly Canadian)

Songs: Ohia has made a career out of channeling everything that was great about Neil Young into their music. Singer/songwriter Jason Molina crafts dark lyrics about regret, despair, and the struggles faced by small town Americans. This is the music you put on during long road trips through Indiana and Ohio. Rolling down the 80/90 Turnpike the songs on Magnolia Electric Co will cause you to stare with a little more sentiment at the pastures and farm homes. It is a story of losing love in an empty town, and realizing it can get even lonelier. The lifestyle once viewed as sad and distant from the perspective of an apartment soaking up the Chicago skyline suddenly becomes beautiful and genuine.

Magnolia Electric Co starts off with a rocker that ranks with the best anything Songs: Ohia have done to date. “Farewell Transmission” has Molina singing about the limitations and frustrations of small town America. When he gives you the lyrics “Now they’ll be working in the cold gray rock, in the hot mill steam… in the concrete/ In the sirens and the silences now all the great set up hearts – all at once start to beat” images of factory workers kissing their wives and newborns goodbye as they rise before dawn, creating a brotherhood that only they can understand comes to mind. Molina refuses to let up with “I’ve been riding with the Ghost.” Pouring his heart out to a lost love he confesses he’s running out of energy and ideas of how to change. He tells her he knows how to change, but can’t do it.

“Just Be Simple” slows down the pacing but becomes more introspective about lost love. Admitting “Everything you hated me for…Honey there was so much more/I just didn’t get busted.” Growing angry at his inadequacy he refuses to face his demons, and instead blames his plot in life. A lonely guitar chord at the end of the song represents a pair of slouched shoulders and an empty dinner table. He moves on in “Almost Was Good Enough” to a weak attempt at convincing himself it wasn’t meant to be, and segues into what could be considered the only flaw in the album

On the next two tracks Molina gives up the singing duties. “Old Black Hen” showcases Lawrence Peters and a deep country twang that becomes an acquired taste. On this track Molina sits down and delivers some of the most heart wrenching piano playing you’ll ever hear. Scout Niblett sings the only track that sounds out of place on this album. “Peoria Lunch Box Blues” succeeds in that the music is some of the darkest on Magnolia Electric Company, but the high pitched Niblett is so contradictory in delivery from that of Molina and Peters that the gray skies mood breaks and you become more annoyed than reflective.

All is forgiven with “John Henry Split My Heart.” The song starts off with a thundering guitar, slows for a moment to just a piano, and then becomes a whirlwind of screeching guitar and hard hitting piano and drumming. The 8-minute album closer “Hold On Magnolia” represents Songs: Ohia at their best. A clinic on proclaiming fault and exorcising demons it delivers the telling line of “You might be holding the last light I see/Before the dark gets a hold of me.”

Small town America is captured on Magnolia Electric Co. It can’t be labeled as rock, country, or blues. Just beautiful. “The real truth about it is no one gets it right.” If Molina ever does get it right, watch for traffic jams on the Turnpike.

Download “Farewell Transmission” via Secretly Canadian. There are tons of other Songs: Ohia mp3s available via Epitonic.