MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC Co – ” Trials & Errors “

Posted: January 18, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Magnolia Electric Co’s ‘Trials & Errors’ was released 15 years ago today on January 18th, 2005. A live album originally recorded in April 2003 at Club Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, the record is the first to bear the Magnolia Electric Co moniker despite the band having been touring as Songs: Ohia over that period, and was met with comparisons to the live recordings of Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

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 live 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. With Molina as the principal songwriter, the songs are as classic as his fans have come to expect over the course of seven Songs: Ohia full-lengths (all released 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. Like a juggernaut that simply chews up everything in its path, on Trials & Errors, the new Magnolia grinds through three old Molina favorites (two from Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain and one from the Songs: Ohia album Magnolia Electric Co), 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. The bastard second of three children, the Midwest is a funny place, often patted on the head and doled out placations of “Oh that’s nice – now go run along while the East & West do their business.” It is an album about finally accepting one’s place in this world; about standing ground and owning up to it with confidence. These are familiar themes that run through some of the greatest literary works of our last great century. Join Magnolia Electric Co as they play their part in a long-standing tradition of touring musical artists (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band) 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.

In subsequent tours, this core line-up would soon shift to find Mark Rice (the Impossible Shapes, John Wilkes Booze) replace Schreiner on drums, with Schreiner (the Panoply Academy, Scout Niblett, the Coke Dares) moving to bass guitar, and Kapinus (Okkervil River sideman) shifting to keyboards/piano & trumpet while Groth (the Impossible Shapes, John Wilkes Booze, the Coke Dares) and Molina remain constant on guitar.

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