Posts Tagged ‘Songs Ohia’

Songs: Ohia is Jason Molina. On “Axxess & Ace” he is assisted by Geoff Comings (Party Girls), Michael Krassner (the Lofty Pillars, Boxhead Ensemble, Edith Frost Band), Joe Ferguson (Pinetop Seven), Dave Pavkovic (Boxhead Ensemble), Julie Liu (Rex) and Edith Frost. It was recorded by Krassner at his Truckstop Studios in Chicago.

What resulted was the most full-sounding Songs: Ohia record to date. Liu’s aching violin playing with Molina’s desperate vocals transport the songs to great depths. “There is no bullshit on this record. It’s a love song record, so I wrote as directly to the point as I could. There is nothing snarling or cynical anywhere on the record. It is not invented stuff either. It’s a desperate record, it’s a jealous record, it’s an imperfect record. It is also as incomplete as a man. This record wasn’t made to rid me of any doubts or to heal me. The end result should show a man, anxious to learn, anxious to share, anxious to curtail all that is selfish. A note about the record as physical fact: it was done almost entirely live and first take. None of us were paid and the musicians all heard these songs for the first time on the day we made the record. Needless to say we could never have predicted the range and the urgency of this record’s atmosphere. We are all very proud of this new Songs: Ohia record Axxess & Ace.

Songs: Ohia takes a big step forward with Axxess & Ace, both in ambition and accessibility. Whereas the self-titled debut and the follow-up, Impala, could be esoteric and downright depressing in places, Axxess weaves intensely personal lyrics with universal worries and anxieties to create a rich musical tapestry. An all-star team of Chicago-based musicians, while Edith Frost sings backup on a few numbers. The musicians heard songwriter Jason Molina’s planned songs for the first time on the day of recording and performed them almost entirely live; the finished product is one of spontaneity yet surprising fullness.

Any exploration of the music of Songs: Ohia should start with this album. “Axxess & Ace” is the third album by Songs: Ohia. Released by Secretly Canadian on March 15th, 1999.

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What to say about Jason Molina? He was prolific—he made dozens of records during his lifetime—and, for a time, elusive. His music was spectral, haunted, out of time. And he began making it in an era, the mid-’90s, when artists had more control over what the world knew about them than they do now. Molina, like Will Oldham—whose label, Palace Music, released some of Molina’s earliest recordings. His album covers were adorned with birds and murky trees. He sang about moons, trains, bells, constellations. Though he performed under various names—Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.—his fixations were constant: isolation, self-doubt, survival. As Molina put it in one song: “Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?” He had a hollow, reedy voice and a penchant for singing about ghosts. His earliest arrangements were spare: You could hear the rooms in which they were recorded, the sound of hands touching instruments. On one song, 2002’s “Didn’t It Rain,” you can hear Molina instructing his fellow musicians, muttering: “Let’s bring it back. We can sing one more.” Who was this guy, I used to wonder? Where did he come from?.

Molina was from Lorain, Ohio—the same town as Toni Morrison. He grew up in a trailer park. His mother was an alcoholic. In her deeply reported 2017 book, Jason Molina: Riding with the Ghost, childhood friends of Molina’s who remember him collecting trinkets and magical objects—animal bones, flags, coins, cigar boxes—a habit he’d keep for the rest of his life. In college, at Oberlin, he got the nickname “Sparky,” for his constant nervous energy. He was a loner, a myth maker, and sometimes an outright liar, telling improbable stories about himself and where he came from. He’d play college parties and “sink the mood.” Most people who met him didn’t quite know what to make of him: He had an artist’s charisma, and an artist’s way of dealing with the world, which is to say, he kept it at a distance. Mostly he wrote songs: compulsively, repetitively. Sometimes he forgot or renamed or even rerecorded them. In his discography, phrases and moods and characters come around again and again, as if every song were part of something bigger, and more whole, than itself.

At some point Molina began drinking in earnest. By the end, he died of it, nine months shy of his 40th birthday. When friends asked what was wrong, or why he was acting strangely, he’d say he had a “virus around his heart.” In lyrics he talked about being stalked by something bigger than himself, and attempting to fight back:

Jason Molina played the blues. That’s a simple way to describe the diverse, mysterious, alternately sad and euphoric music of the late singer/songwriter, who died in 2013 at the age of 39. He used music as a way to explore big concepts: life, death, love and existence. He’d write rock epics about the endtimes, and hushed dirges about being followed by ghosts, either real or metaphorical. His music was unmistakably Midwestern at times, evoking the factories and long stretches of road between Indiana and Chicago. At others, he seemed to occupy a space outside of any recognizable locale. And he was often followed by vivid man-made and natural imagery, the most iconic presence in his songs being the eerie light of the moon.

Molina grew up in Ohio, and many of his early recordings—under the name Songs: Ohia—reflected those roots. He was raised on a diet of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, but he developed his own unique style early on, employing space more deftly than most indie singer/songwriters of the ’90s and early ’00s. And while his first few records employed a bare-bones lo-fi folk sound, it didn’t take long for Molina to cultivate a sound of his own, one that was almost a contradiction of itself. His songs weren’t often loud, but they carried an intensity that volume alone couldn’t convey. “He would crank his electric, but he would barely touch the strings,” said artist Will Schaff, who designed the covers of several of Molina’s albums and singles.

The body of work that Jason Molina released in his lifetime is split into several disparate parts. The first part comprises his work as Songs: Ohia, which was a slower, more atmospheric sound that he eventually built into breathtaking, haunting perfection. The second part is Magnolia Electric Co., which was Molina’s proper rock band, often drawing comparisons to Neil Young, and rightfully so. It wasn’t just that Molina was influenced by Young and Crazy Horse, but that he actually wrote songs good enough to stand up to Shakey’s. And in between there were the solo recordings, mostly just Molina and his guitar, not quite as dramatic or intricate as the others, but still beautiful, still affecting.

With a 15-year anniversary of Magnolia Electric Co. It seemed like the right time to take a look at the whole of Molina’s studio album catalog, from his early lo-fi sounds to his later forays into rock ‘n’ roll. Everything he did was interesting. Most of it was very good. Some of it reflective of the sadness and addiction that followed him throughout his life. And a solid segment of his albums are utterly essential.

Songs: Ohia – Songs: Ohia (1997; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Songs Ohia

Jason Molina began his recording career in much the same way every indie band does: With a set of songs rich in promise and made on a shoestring budget. It’s not the lowest fidelity of any Songs: Ohia release, but it’s close. The songs are well-written and feature full-band arrangements, Molina’s folk-rock sounds touched up with the occasional accordion or saxophone. Yet the production quality does flatten what should be much richer-sounding songs, and most of them are far shorter than the gorgeous ballads that Molina would develop over the next couple of years. Molina himself sounds reedy and thin, the full power of his tenor buried a bit in the mix. Yet it’s easy to hear the strength of the songs and the possibilities of what Songs: Ohia could, and did, become.

 

Songs: Ohia – Impala (1998; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Impala

The first few years of Songs: Ohia were remarkably prolific, with Molina releasing seven albums in just four years. Two of those were limited-edition recordings featuring demos and improvisations, but it’s still an impressive amount of music for a concentrated period of time. The second of those seven, Impala, is mostly in line with the self-titled debut, a recording of primarily stark recordings built from overwhelming sadness and bare-bones instrumentation. It’s all very good and emotionally draining, though it has its moments of variation and a handful of standouts, like the epic slowcore opener “An Ace Unable to Change” and the almost punk “One of those Uncertain Hands,” which explodes throughout its 87 seconds. Still, it’s hard not to miss the bigger arrangements of the debut, even if the recording quality is a little better.

 

 

 Songs: Ohia – Axxess and Ace (1999; Secretly Canadian)

jason molina discography Axcess and Ace

Not only did Molina release a lot of music in those first few years, but he actually progressed a lot as a songwriter and performer in that time. His third album, Axcess and Ace, had become the template for the next few (official) Songs: Ohia records, and was the best yet upon its release. There’s a hushed, spacious sensibility to the songs, with an almost jazz-like aesthetic throughout. Molina switches from acoustic guitar to electric on much of the album, and the greater clarity of sound gives the record a more graceful, eerily beautiful sound. At times it’s emotionally devastating, as on “Love Leaves Its Abusers.” But the album also features Songs: Ohia’s first truly great song, “Captain Badass.” Unfolding over seven-plus minutes with its nocturnal strums and brushed drums, the track finds Molina embracing jazzy textures to great effect. Moreover, his voice sounds even stronger than it had on the previous two releases, the young singer/songwriter coming into his own as a powerful presence and a stellar songwriter alike.

Songs: Ohia – The Ghost (1999; Secretly Canadian/tour only)

jason molina discography The Ghost

Early on in his Songs: Ohia career, Molina released a handful of tour-only releases that featured material in the vein of his proper studio recordings, albeit made in considerably different circumstances. For a lot of touring indie bands in the ’00s, this was fairly common practice (and still is to some degree), though for the most part Molina kept to wide-released albums after 2000. Still, it offered an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse of the songwriter. The Ghost sounds essentially like a collection of demos, its 10 songs recorded with bare-bones, no-budget technology—probably a hand-held tape recorder. And through the fuzz, some hints of his songwriting strengths can be heard, though the hiss and static do obscure a great deal of it. It’s not a proper album of his for a reason, though it’s at least interesting, a limited-release obscurity that in all likelihood helped contribute a few bucks to something greater ahead.

 

 Songs: Ohia – The Lioness (2000; Secretly Canadian)

jason molina discography The Lioness

Jason Molina’s fifth album (or fourth if you’re less inclined to count The Ghost among his “official” albums) marked the beginning of a new phase of exploration, emotional expression and undeniable beauty. Or, put more simply, The Lioness, after three good albums, was his first great one. Possessing neither the kitchen-sink lo-fi sounds of his debut nor the more overt folkiness of the others, The Lioness is a spacious, slow-moving album that allows each moment of bruised beauty to linger. It helps that this was the best-recorded album of his to date, which is apparent through the gripping seven minutes of “The Black Crow,” opening the album with a breathtaking tension that leaves one exhausted after listening. And yet, there’s a minimalist sensibility about it—the chord progression almost never changes, just the volume and intensity, and Molina’s own rising voice as he yells the phrase “And it’s fading!” with some distance between him and the mic. It’s not a loud album, but it can take a lot out of a listener, particularly in tracks like “Tigress” or the title track, wherein Molina treats courtship as bloodsport: “Want to feel my heartbreak if it must break in your jaws/ Want you to lick my blood off your paws.” It’s one of the most gruesome albums ever written about love, which in a sense makes it all the more romantic.

  Songs: Ohia – Protection Spells (2000; Secretly Canadian/tour only)

jason molina discography Protection Spells

Songs: Ohia released three albums in 2000, which is close to a record for Molina, although only if you view the box set Sojourner as a solitary release rather than as four in one. Yet of the three full-length releases to bear the Songs: Ohia name in 2000,Protection Spells is something of a minor inclusion, as it was a tour album that didn’t find its way on to most retailer shelves. That’s because, in contrast to his other albums, it comprised an entire session’s worth of improvised material. This doesn’t mean it’s a free jazz album or anything quite so chaotic. Rather, Molina and a band played their way through some loose jams of slow, bluesy sounds that are often stark, unrelentingly melancholy and occasionally quite stunning. “Trouble Will Find You,” for instance, is utterly gorgeous. It most closely resembles Cat Power’s What Would the Community Think, which is a strong album to be compared to, though it’s mostly missing that album’s melodic peaks. Overall it’s a much more listener-friendly set of music than 1999′s The Ghost, though still out of reach of a stunner like The Lioness from the same year.

 Songs: Ohia – Ghost Tropic (2000; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Songs Ohia Ghost Tropic

There are a lot of songs in Jason Molina’s catalog that make mention of ghosts. One might say that Molina was haunted in many senses of the word, and one of them seemed to be quite literal. Ghostly visitations took place in many of his albums, and he even let them creep into the title of his 2000 album Ghost Tropic. Ghost Tropic is indeed ghostly, aided by Lullaby for the Working Class’ Mike Mogis and Shane Aspegren on a set of music that’s considerably different from many of Molina’s other recordings. It’s not as folky as his first few solo albums, nor as gritty and rock-oriented as his Magnolia Electric Co. material. It’s stark, gothic avant-blues that’s as eerie and shadowy as anything he’s ever recorded. And though it received mixed reviews upon first release, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best things he ever made, in part because it’s such a bold statement. There are open spaces throughout, ominously ringing piano keys, field recordings of birds and whirring organs. There’s even a touch of The Bad Seeds’ ornate punk blues, channeled through lengthy dirges. And for his part, Molina is a bit more restrained than usual, singing on six of the album’s eight songs but often with hypnotic repetition or leaving ellipses rather than carrying out his characteristic narratives. The two 10-plus-minute tracks toward the end of the album, “Not Just a Ghost’s Heart” and “Incantation,” are breathtaking in their pitch-black atmosphere. Yet the shorter tracks reveal their own stunning details, like the chilling two-note piano bassline of “The Body Burned Away” and the pick harmonics and stylistic detuning of “Lightning Risked It All” (which could easily be slipped onto a Califone album without raising red flags). Ghost Tropic is such a strange album, but it’s executed so beautifully and so hauntingly that it amounts to one of Molina’s greatest single recordings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Songs: Ohia: Travels in Constants Temporary Residence Ltd

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Available on Vinyl for the first time ever. Sometime in 2001 -sandwiched between the release of Ghost Tropic and its follow-up, the cryptic classic, Didn’t It Rain – Songs: Ohia recorded an EP for Temporary Residence’s distance-themed subscription series, Travels In Constants. The untitled EP consisted of a single 18-minute song -performed live by Jason Molina in his living room, recorded directly to 4-track cassette as the sounds of a typical Chicago night bled through the air. Built solely from an acoustic guitar and Molina’s familiar melancholy croon, it’s a hauntingly intimate track. Molina once remarked that it was “probably too out there” for a proper Songs: Ohia album, which is perhaps why is felt right at home in this context. Scarcely available in its original CD-only edition of 1,000 copies, Travels In Constants has finally been remastered and reissued for vinyl. Completing this reissue is Howler, another unusually lengthy Songs: Ohia track that, like Travels In Constants, was recorded and released in 2001 in an edition of only 1,000. These tracks are amongst the most bistractly beautiful and alarmingly delicate music that Molina ever committed to tape.

Songs: Ohia – Didn’t It Rain (2002; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Songs Ohia Didn't It Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just about everything Jason Molina recorded was good to great. A handful of albums he released were absolute masterpieces. Didn’t It Rain is perfect. His most highly acclaimed album at the time of its release, Didn’t It Rain has aged remarkably well, its nocturnal blues-folk dirges an enchanting continuation of the stunning sounds on Ghost Tropic, rendered in the oxidized hues of Rust Belt America. Gone are the birdsong and metallic sounds of percussive elements and harmonic-scrape guitar strings. In their stead are is the spiritual soul of gospel and electric blues, still played slowly and with a hushed beauty. The album was mostly recorded at night, and it sounds like it—this isn’t music that makes a lot of sense during the daytime. And though it’s dark, it’s also hopeful. The opening title track, arguably Molina’s most beautiful composition, is a beacon of hope that guides the album. “If you do see that golden light, that it shines in its fiery eye,” he sings, “go on and catch it while you can… let it course through you, and let it burn through you.” Elsewhere, Molina and his bandmates—which include Jim and Jennie of the Pinetops, lending some breathtaking vocal harmonies—groove through a hypnotic two-chord repetition in “Steve Albini’s Blues,” take on a gothic Americana sound in “Ring the Bell” and go whisper quiet in “Two Blue Lights.”

The album is streaked with imagery of Middle America—the blue factory flame, the Chicago moon and the bridge out of Hammond, Indiana. It lends a certain warmth and soul to a piece of America that’s often reduced to demographic data, and in all of the darkness of Didn’t It Rain, Molina never lets go of hope. This was technically the last official Songs: Ohia album, as Molina would later clarify. It’s not necessarily that surprising in hindsight. Once he perfected it, he was ready to move on.

Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co. (2003; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Magnolia Electric Co.

There’s an interesting paradox about the ninth and final Songs: Ohia album. It’s technically a Songs: Ohia album, and the title of it is Magnolia Electric Co. But since Molina adopted the name of Magnolia Electric Co. to name the rock band he assembled from that moment forward, it’s technically that band’s first album too. It came as something of a surprise whenMagnolia Electric Co. was released, however, as much of Molina’s output to that point had rarely been steeped in fuzz and recorded with the volume cranked. Not that Molina ever suggested such a thing was out of the question; he had covered Black Sabbath and AC/DC songs, and was a longtime fan of hard rock and metal, despite mostly playing a much subtler style of music. Perhaps it’s credit to Molina’s rock ‘n’ roll schooling that right out of the gates, he delivers one of the best rock ‘n’ roll anthems of his career—and of the ’00s—”Farewell Transmission.” Driven by a recurring chorus of “long dark blues,” it’s a sprawling country-rock telling of an apocalyptic event that’s painted in vivid hues: “Now we’ll all be brothers of the fossil fire of the sun/ Now we’ll all be sisters of the fossil blood of the moon.” The entire album comprises highlights, essentially, many of them hard rocking ones, such as “I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost” and “John Henry Split His Heart,” though fascinatingly it’s one of few Molina-fronted albums that gives two other singers the lead. One is Scout Niblett, who sings “Peoria Lunch Box Blues,” and the other is whiskey-throated country singer Lawrence Peters, who gives “The Old Black Hen” some powerful Western soul. Molina later declared this the first proper Magnolia Electric Co. album, and it makes sense as being that; instead of choosing a gradual transition into a new project, he made the line of demarcation a bold one, louder and more maximalist than any of his previous albums. As Molina himself says, it’s a long dark blues: Listen.

  Jason Molina – Pyramid Electric Co. (2004; Secretly Canadian)

jason molina discography Pyramid Electric Co.

Back when this album was released, I remember getting in touch with the label about receiving an advance. There weren’t any—in fact, the label in-house PR person said that whoever reviewed it for Pitchfork must have bought a copy, since it wasn’t being serviced (which is writerspeak for being on the album-promo mailing list). The fact of the matter is that Pyramid Electric Co. isn’t a high profile release from Molina, sandwiched between his first two Magnolia Electric Co. releases (one of which was also the last Songs: Ohia album). A limited edition vinyl-only album, Pyramid Electric Co. was a stark, primarily voice-and-guitar record that harkened back to Molina’s early tour-only issues. But that’s not to say it’s a disappointing set of songs at all. Better recorded than The Ghost and more stripped down than Protection Spells, Pyramid is both haunting and gorgeous, its most striking moment the dark and spacious opening title track. Yet the tuneful “Song of the Road” showed that there was still room for a good hook.

 

 Magnolia Electric Co. – What Comes After the Blues (2005; Secretly Canadian)

jason molina discography Magnolia What Comes After the Blues

With the release of 2003′s Magnolia Electric Co., Molina drew a dividing line between the hushed dirges of his Songs: Ohia project and the full-band country-rock that he’d soon fire up. At the time it came as a surprise—a spectacular one—though it’s far from an unprecedented move in indie rock. In fact, that same year Phil Elverum did the same thing in reverse, transitioning the ambitious indie rock collective The Microphones into the anything-goes solo recordings of Mount Eerie. The biggest revelation of Magnolia Electric Co., however, was that Molina could—and did—rock. Inspired heavily by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Magnolia Electric Co. delivered one hell of a rock single with 2005′s “The Dark Don’t Hide It.” Maybe the catchiest song Molina ever wrote, “Dark” takes the idea of heartbreak and human unkindness into a masterful display of clever, homespun verse: “Now the world was empty on the day when they made it/But heaven needed someplace to throw all the shit.” It’s the first song on What Comes After the Blues, and that’s its biggest flaw. All of its songs are very good; none of them are quite that driving and powerful. “Hard To Love A Man” comes close, more of a slow burn than an explosion. And interestingly, the final three songs (of eight) are entirely acoustic, borrowing the Neil Young/Bob Dylan trick of splitting the album’s aesthetics in two. But while no song musically kicks as much ass as “Dark,” closing track “I Can Not Have Seen the Light” is just as emotionally poignant, exploring depression in a very real and plainspoken way: “Do I have to be alright all the time?” While it’s by no means Molina’s best album, it’s still an album that still often finds him at his best.

 

 Jason Molina – Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (2006; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography let me go

The release of Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go was a return to an old way of doing things for Molina. Released after he had transitioned into the full-band roots-rock sound of Magnolia Electric Co., the album found Molina shedding the bigger, noisier rock songs for songs that were mostly just the sound of the man’s voice and his guitar. There were some organs and pianos here and there, sure, but Let Me Go is essentially an intimate session with just Molina himself, free of additional adornments and instrumentation. He never needed much else, and here his dark visions are as mysteriously evocative as ever: “The dark outside the world/ I think it looks like rain.” While the transition into leading a proper rock ‘n’ roll sound does leave this feeling a little bit less robust as his other recordings around the same time, it’s still a strong set of music that’s worth a listen after dark, during an autumn rain.

 

Magnolia Electric Co. – Fading Trails (2006; Secretly Canadian)

Magnolia Electric Co Fading Trails review

Fading Trails is an excellent record. It’s also a peculiar record. For one, its artwork depicts a topless woman with a kind of ghostly air about her, rather than the illustrations that typically adorn a Songs: Ohia or Magnolia Electric Co. recording. Furthermore, while it’s ostensibly a studio album, it’s pieced together like a compilation, its nine tracks culled from four separate recording sessions, all of which were collected on 2007′s Sojourner. So on the surface it might seem like a more disjointed work, considering it features different producers, including Steve Albini and David Lowery. However, it doesn’t sound that way. Maybe it’s simply the result of being the work of a singular artist with a strongly defined style, but Fading Trails all fits together quite well, from the country rock hooks of “Lonesome Valley” and “Talk to Me Devil, Again” to the stripped-down closing tracks, “Spanish Moon Fall and Rise” and “Steady Now.” And the imagery of past records still looms large over these songs: “Out here the ghost wears its feathered crown of blues/And the sickle moon to watch over all the lost horizon.” Ghosts, blues and the moon: That’s Jason Molina’s music in a nutshell.

Magnolia Electric Co. – Sojourner (2007; Secretly Canadian/limited edition)

Jason Molina discography Sojourner

The curious thing about so much of Jason Molina’s recorded output is not so much what he released but how he released it. While his best albums were no question the “official” Songs: Ohia or Magnolia Electric Co. releases (Molina was often his own best editor and judge), there’s so much additional material that can’t be purchased in physical formats anymore, like the 2007-released limited-edition box set Sojourner. At the time it was issued—in a wooden box, beautifully packaged and currently going for $150 or so secondhand)—Sojourner didn’t entirely comprise unreleased material. Nine of its tracks made their way on to the previous year’s Fading Trails, essentially a studio album culled from the best of those four sessions. Most of them were taken from Nashville Moon, the first, Steve Albini-recorded disc whose outtakes are just as strong as those that made the Fading Trails cut. The final disc is entirely made up of acoustic tracks, some of which tend to lose some of the steam of the early material, and the EP-length Sun Sessions is a brief but interesting set of extras. But the David Lowery-produced Black Ram is perhaps the most interesting inclusion, a dark and haunting set of dirges that takes a much eerier turn than the catchier, driving songs of Nashville Moon. Altogether, Sojourner contains much of the best material that Molina ever recorded, along with some that’s not necessarily incredible but still enjoyable. It’s a pretty overwhelming set of music, but proof that Molina’s leftovers occasionally were just as good or even better than the official LPs.

Magnolia Electric Co. – Josephine (2009; Secretly Canadian)

Magnolia Electric Co. Josephine review

Jason Molina’s final album release in his lifetime was never expected to be that. His death four years later came as a shock, though his own health had been deteriorating due to alcohol, and he essentially stopped releasing music. In fact, in May of 2012, he released a letter to fans expressing gratitude for their concern and sounding relatively upbeat in spite of his deteriorating health. But in 2009, despite being the year that he’d fall off the radar after canceling tour dates with Will Johnson, he still was as productive and prolific as ever. His final release was his collaborative album will Will Johnson, Molina & Johnson, but just five months before that, he released his last album with Magnolia Electric Co., Josephine. And again, it was never intended to be that. In fact, it feels like a strong continuation of his previous three Magnolia albums, albeit one more steeped in country-rock sounds and adorned with gorgeous accents of pedal steel. And much like those albums, Josephine also returns to the rewarding well of Crazy Horse-style rock ‘n’ roll, particularly on standouts “The Handing Down,” “Map of the Falling Sky” and “Little Sad Eyes,” all of which run together in a sequence. That Josephine isn’t considered one of the greatest moments in Molina’s career isn’t necessarily a knock on it. He had already issued about four true masterpieces in his lifetime. If anything, it feels just slightly out of reach of those heights, a comfortable continuation rather than besting the heights ofDidn’t It Rain or Magnolia Electric Co. It’s a warm and lovely album that suggests Molina had far from reached the bottom of his songwriting well, and there’s something oddly reassuring in that.

Molina & Johnson (2009; Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina discography Molina and Johnson

The final album that Jason Molina released in his lifetime wasn’t a proper solo album or a Magnolia Electric Co. effort either. It was a full-length collaboration with Centro-Matic’s Will Johnson that felt less like a fully formed album than a fun set of songs and unfinished sketches that the two musicians simply had fun putting together. It’s not bad at all, and in fact features some truly gorgeous songs, including “What You Reckon, What You Breathe” and “Each Star Marks a Day.” But Molina is only a solo vocalist on a handful of songs here, Johnson mostly taking the lead, and quite a few of the songs seeming either unfinished or pale sketches of something that could have been even greater with a bit more time devoted to them. It’s all mostly stark, few of the songs featuring more than guitar and voice and occasionally some keyboard, and the fidelity even seems a bit inconsistent throughout. At the time, though, it was merely a nice appendix to an already rich catalog, less an essential than something along the lines of the Songs: Ohia tour-only releases from earlier on in his career. Not essential, but not bad. And though the music itself is stark and minor key, the truly sad thing about it is how open-ended it feels.

Songs Ohia: Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions (2018 Secretly Canadian)

Lionsesh

The Lioness is the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers – Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avant-garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.

We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love – an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.

And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn Wondrous Love. While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing / Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.

Given what’s going on outside, this is resonant stuff now. But it was then too. I’ve been thinking about why I was first drawn to Molina’s music, and why I’ve been returning to it. I think the answers are more or less the same. There is his voice, the strength of it, even when it wavers. There is the way the first few chords he tends to play ring out, like someone clearing a path up ahead of you. And there is the melancholy of it, which exists and yet is somehow reassuring. Why listen to music this sad and unguarded? To recognize yourself and your sadness in someone else. To feel: We are not alone. Even when we are alone.

The final studio album from the late, great Jason Molina –  “Eight Gates” (Secretly Canadian) Limited Edition “Shortbread Splash” Red Vinyl LP, Black Vinyl LP, CD

The singer/songwriter, who released his most well-known albums under the alias Songs: Ohia (his indie folk outfit) and then later with his band Magnolia Electric Co. (who were more comfortably classified as country-rock), died way too young at 39 in March of 2013. He struggled with depression and alcoholism for years, the latter of which eventually led to organ failure. His story is a tragic but familiar one: Like Elliott Smith or Kurt Cobain or Amy Winehouse, Molina was a genius who left us too soon.

Thankfully though, like Smith, Cobain and Winehouse, Molina released near-perfect music in the short time he was here. Those aforementioned nine never-before-heard songs will arrive in the form of a new posthumous solo album, Eight Gates, on Friday, August. 7th via the storied indie/folk label Secretly Canadian. The label is releasing Eight Gates under Molina’s name (as opposed to one of the other monikers he used while he was alive), and its arrival was preceded by two singles: “The Mission’s End” and “Shadow Answers the Wall.” Recorded in the late 2000s when the Ohio-born Molina was living in London, Eight Gates is a lo-fi unfinished effort (probably because it was, in fact, never fully finished). It doesn’t feel like enough to constitute an album. But considering that our desire for new Molina music will never actually be satiated, it’s appropriate that Eight Gates leaves us wanting more.

This is a really special one  “Eight Gates” is the final collection of studio recordings made by Jason Molina (also known by Songs Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co.) in 2013, before he passed away from complications around alcoholism. Taking its name from the fabled seven gates in London’s walls, the eighth was Molina’s own way into the city. He was feeding bright green parrots in his yard, descended from ring-necked parakeets Hendrix released over London skies in the ’60s, and making some of the most fully-realised music of his career.

Secretly Canadian announce this new Jason Molina record, Eight Gates, will be released on 7th August and share the track ‘Shadow Answers the Wall’. The album is the last collection of solo recordings Molina made before he passed away from complications related to alcoholism in 2013.

Pre-Order Eight Gates

Sometime in 2006, or 2007, Jason Molina moved from the Midwest to London. Separated from his bandmates and friends, and never one for idleness, Molina explored his new home with fervor. He’d pick up on arcane trivia about London’s rich history, and if the historical factoids weren’t available, or weren’t quite to his liking Molina was quite comfortable conjuring his own history.

When he learned of the London Wall’s seven gates, Molina went ahead and called it eight, carving out a gate just for himself. The eighth gate was Molina’s way into London, a gate only passable in the mind.

Fast-forward to 2008, Molina set off on an experimental solo tour through Europe. While in Northern Italy, Molina claimed to have been bitten by a rare, poisonous spider. A debilitating bout of illness ensued. “I was in the hospital here in London,” Molina wrote in a letter. “Saw six doctors and a Dr. House-type guy. They are all mystified by it, but I am allowed to be at home, where I am taking a dozen scary Hantavirus type pills a day that are all to supposedly help but they make me feel like shit.” There is no record of a single doctor visit, not any prescription record for these medications. It is entirely plausible there was no spider and that whatever was keeping him indoors during this time was entirely self-induced. While at home, he of course wrote songs.

Molina also claimed that during this time, he fed several bright green parrots that would gather in his yard and made short, crude field recordings of them with his trusty four-track. Only once Molina was officially on the mend and re-exploring the streets of London would he learn that those parrots had their own fabled tale. Back in the 60s, Jimi Hendrix — in a moment of psychedelic clarity — released his pair of lime green ring-necked parakeets from their cage, setting them free into the London sky. Now, their descendants are spotted regularly around certain parts of the city. Or so we’re told.

Recorded in London around the time of the supposed spider bite and Jimi’s supposed parakeets, some of the songs on Eight Gates (“Whispered Away,” “Thistle Blue”) are fully-realized — dark, moody textures that call to mind his earlier work on The Lioness. Knowing what we know about those parakeets and their peppered presence on the recordings, one can’t help but think of that colorful tree of birds on Talk Talk’s classic Laughing Stock, certainly a spiritual guide for much of the set. Other songs (“She Says,” “The Crossroads and The Emptiness”) lay in a more unfinished states, acoustic takes that call to mind Molina’s Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go, and still tethered to Molina’s humorous studio banter. You remember how young Molina was, and how weighty this art was for such a young man. On the closer, “The Crossroads and The Emptiness,” Molina snaps at the engineer before tearing into a song in which he sings of his birthday (30th December), a palm reading and the great emptiness with which he always wrestled. It is a perfect closer and, in many ways, the eighth gate incarnate: mythical, passable only in the mind, built for himself and partway imaginary but shared, thankfully, with us

“Shadow Answers the Wall” by Jason Molina, from the upcoming record ‘Eight Gates’ out August 7th, 2020 on Secretly Canadian.

Tracklisting: 

  1. Whisper Away
  2. Shadow Answers the Wall
  3. The Mission’s End
  4. Old Worry
  5. She Says
  6. Fire on the Rail
  7. Be Told the Truth
  8. Thistle Blue
  9. The Crossroad + The Emptiness

One quality that differentiates Molina from those other lost names, though, is that he was never really famous. He played small shows and roughed it for most of his career. In death, however, his songs have taken on a mystical quality—In 2014, a host of artists like My Morning Jacket and Sarah Jaffe shared fresh takes on his songs for a covers album called Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina. Since then, even more artists have come forward as Molina disciples: Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee covered two Songs: Ohia classics for a split single in 2018, “Just Be Simple” is a staple in The Avett Brothers’ live show and Amanda Shires covered that same song in our studio a couple years back. Hopefully Eight Gates will lead even more Americana-minded musicians down the long trail of breadcrumbs Molina left behind.

The Broken Beauty of Jason Molina’s Final Album, <i>Eight Gates</i>

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Magnolia Electric Co “What Comes After The Blues” was released fifteen years ago today on 5th April 2005 From the original Secretly Canadian press release:

With this record, we entered a new era with Jason Molina. After seven full-length studio albums in as many years – each recorded using a revolving cast of players under the name Songs: OhiaMolina retired the name Songs: Ohia as well as his wayward days and settled in with a new and consistent cast of players. He has named this group Magnolia Electric Co., after his final Songs: Ohia album, finding a once-in-a-career band down in Bloomington in Pete Schreiner, Jason Groth, Mark Rice and Mike Kapinus.

Sonically, on What Comes After the Blues, there isn’t a huge departure from where Songs: Ohia was headed. The steel howling hauntedly, the guitars soaring and crunching with verve, and the songs still resonating with timelessness. Steve Albini’s live-in-a-room and captured-as-it-was-played engineering technique is still a crucial player as well. Where we find the marked difference with this new band and with these players in this new cloak are in their confidence as afforded by experience and trust in one another. These guys are talented, hard-working, and actually enjoy playing with one another – and you can hear it in the songs. Magnolia Electric Co. made a no-bullshit album that is both rocking and full of life; it’s a fist pumper and manages to hit great depths of beauty as well.”

https://secretlycanadian.com/re…/what-comes-after-the-blues/

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‘Protection Spells’ is the last of the three Songs: Ohia records we’re celebrating this week. Taken from around the time of the record’s release, here are Jason Molina’s own words on this unique collection of songs:

“The Protection Spells is a collection of songs recorded over a period of several Songs: Ohia tours. Presented here are nine entirely improvised pieces. The approach to these songs involved no rehearsals, no second takes, no additions and no going back. What you have here are songs that just happened in real time. The many musicians on these recordings were friends, bandmates and, at times, total strangers. I have long hoped to offer the listener a chance to have some of these great accidents on record. It is a direct look at my songwriting process, only a little more risky, and nobody has any idea what direction we are going until we all start working on it together.

I think that the years of improvised music I played in the past helped to strengthen the risk-taking with these songs. Here the the goal was to still have basic songs without falling into long freak-out noise experiments, saving that kind of exploration for live settings. You will notice the appearances and disappearances of ideas that could never be recreated, not that they are all brilliant, but they are certainly not forced. The seemingly arbitrary moments of strange repetition the lyrics, the clear lack of a preconceived system of established song parts, all are the marks of improvised songwriting. Since even the singing had no idea what the floorplan of the song was to be, there were some unanticipated troubles and some shy steps taken, but I have preserved these mappings of the dangerous musical byroads that Songs: Ohia has always depended on. I hope you enjoy this”

https://secretlycanadian.com/record/protection-spells/

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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.

Robert Crumb

This week we have the superb new LP from Maps, taking this psychedelic atmosphere and injecting it with a healthy dose of percussive heft and placing more of an emphasis on the jagged time signatures and heady vocal reverbs. Moving beyond this heady mix and into more grounded territory, we get the big new indie release everyone’s been waiting for, and the brilliant ‘Here Comes The Cowboy’ certainly doesn’t disappoint. Filled with all of the smooth and sweet vocal flourishes you’d expect from Mac Demarco, a smooth loungey groove into his already super relaxed sound.

Please check out the new A.A. Bondy this new LP guarantees melodic undercurrent of folk and Americana being all but completely disguised by shadowy synths and cavernous reverbed bass, not to mention a plethora of technological flourishes to really ramp the enjoyment up. The new one from Holly Herndon, bolstered with Herndon’s HUGE vocal presence. Coming soon is the new Raconteurs LP ‘Help Us Stranger’ released on the 21st of June.

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Charly Bliss – Young Enough

Charly Bliss have evolved from the bunch of scrappy upstarts behind their brash punk debut Guppy, to the confident, assured artists who have produced the comparatively dynamic and unapologetically pop Young Enough. But, for lead singer Eva Hendricks, the path of this evolution was fraught, as her lyrics inspired by a past abusive relationship show. Songwriting became a source of respite, and, eventually, redemption. “You go through experiences of loss or extreme pain and you just keep moving,” Eva says. “You look around and go, how has the world not stopped? But it is also powerful. It’s like, I’m still here, I’m not a person who is ruled by pain, I still like who I am.”

Chat Room and Young Enough are new sonic lynchpins, as is the soaring, mini epic, Fighting In the Dark. The delicate synth confessional Hurt Me also felt, as Eva puts it, “like something we hadn’t explored yet.” The entire record sounds like a new realm, from the deceptively easeful confessional Capacityto the propulsive, more classic pop of Hard To Believe. In the end, Young Enough feels joyful and celebratory, but also infused with a new sense of depth and maturity. “I want people to feel strong when they listen to this record,” says Eva. “Like you’re working through some shit but you feel really strong and beautiful, even if you’re in a lot of pain. That’s what I want people to feel. The opposite of broken.” For fans of Veruca Salt, Pixies and The Breeders.

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Holly Herndon – Proto

Holly’s third full-length album Proto isn’t about A.I., but much of it was created in collaboration with her own A.I. ‘baby’, Spawn. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing, and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion.

Eternal follows the 2018 release of Holly and Jlin’s collaborative song Godmother (feat. Spawn). The skittering track, which was created by Spawn reimagining the artworks of her ‘godmother’ Jlin in a trained model of her mother’s voice with no editing or sample trickery, was praised everywhere from NPR to The Guardian to New York Times, and elsewhere.

You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album, developed in partnership with long time collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace, and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee.

Just as Platform forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, Proto is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come.

Lionsesh

Songs: Ohia – Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions

The Lionessis the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers – Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avant-garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.

We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love – an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.

And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn Wondrous Love. While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing / Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.

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The Dream Syndicate – These Times

There are two phases of The Dream Syndicate. There was the band with revolving lineups that existed from 1982 to 1988 and made four albums includingThe Days of Wine and Roses and have influenced bands and delighted fans in the years since. And then there’s the band that reunited in 2012 and is closing in on its seventh year with nary a lineup change. This 21st Century version of the Dream Syndicate releasedHow Did I Find Myself Here in 2017 to universal acclaim, no small feat for a band reuniting after almost three decades. With that reintroduction and a full year of touring behind them, the Dream Syndicate had the freedom to take it all somewhere new, to dig a little deeper, get outside of themselves a little bit. Their new album These Times feels like a late-night radio show that you might have heard as a kid, drifting off into dreams and wondering the next morning if any of it was real.

So, what does it sound like? If How Did I Find Myself Herewas a 10 pm record, all swagger and cathartic explosion, then These Times is the 2 am sibling, moodier and more mercurial, the band acting as DJs of their own overnight radio station, riffing on an idea of what a Dream Syndicate album could be at this moment in time. It is Radio DS19.

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Lydia Ainsworth – Phantom Forest

Lydia Ainsworth’s third album, Phantom Forest, introduces a lush, complex dream world that the singer, composer, and producer created and inhabited largely on her own. She produced all the songs, and wrote and performed everything on the self-released collection outside of a re-imagined cover of Pink Floyd’s Green is the Colour and 2 other tracks (The Time, Give It Back To You), which started as instrumentals written by Survive’s Kyle Dixon (who composed the Stranger Things soundtrack with his bandmate Michael Stein), to which Ainsworth wrote melodies and added lyrics. Phantom Forest is a beautiful, vast collection that mixes the historical and the hands on, with hooks about the apocalypse and people obsessively using face-recognition software to see what paintings their face match with, in search of some kind of connection. It’s a journey that holds up to close listening (and lyric reading) and to dancefloors, but that can also exist on a purely emotional plane. In all cases, it asks that you listen, and take some kind of action.

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The Beths – Warm Blood

The Beths debut EP – available for the first time on (Pink) Vinyl. This EP is the prequel to their debut album Future Me Hates Me which is much loved release. The Beths’ Warm Blood is a strong contender for the catchiest record you’ve never heard. Formed when four jazz students at the University of Auckland bonded over their shared love of the pop-punk sounds of their youth, The Beths bring new energy to the genre. This 5-song debut EP, a deliriously pleasurable statement of purpose, comes crammed with enough blissful hooks to carry through most bands’ careers.

Listeners for whom the tag “New Zealand indie rock” brings to mind the Flying Nun sound of bands like The Clean and The Chills may be surprised to find Warm Blood’s five unstoppable tunes landing closer to artists like Slant 6 and The Breeders. The nimble guitar work here moves from heavy riffing reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney to hazily bending lines that would make Stephen Malkmus and Mary Timony beam, while the joyous vocal harmonies from all four members bubble and swell to ecstaticcrescendos that channel The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.

With impeccable production from guitarist Jonathan Pearce and stellar musicianship across the board, Warm Blood is a non-stop delight. Tracks like lead off track and first single Whatever, the ridiculously addictive standout Idea / Intent, andRush Hour 3, a playful ode to romance in this era of download-and-chill franchise films, take delight in the challenge of breathing new energy into the limitations of the 3-minute pop song.

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Morrissey – Wedding Bells Blues

Limited Clear Yellow 7″ vinyl from Morrissey’s covers album California Sun featuring Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day on Wedding Bell Blues originally by The Fifth Dimension. Lydia Night of the Regrettes also joins Armstrong and Morrissey on the track. It comes backed by Brow of My Beloved

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Mikal Cronin – Undertow / Breathe

Mikal Cronin is back in the Famous class fold with his beautiful new 7”. This is Mikal’s first new solo material since his excellent album MCIII back in 2015. It’s two tracks of perfect guitar-pop craftsmanship

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Linda Guilala – Estado Natural

Spanish shoegaze trio Linda Guilala’s new single is the third instalment in the Sonic Cathedral Singles Club.

Estado Natural(which translates as ‘natural state’) is the follow-up to last year’s Mucho Mejor and is an indie-pop classic in the making, all driving rhythms and synths swooping and fizzing like Stereolab in a Soda Stream. The flipside, Espacio De Tiempo (‘space of time’), is a much more Lush and laid-back affair. Limited edition of 350 on red vinyl.

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Coming soon is the new Raconteurs LP ‘Help Us Stranger’ released on the 21st of June.

Lionsesh

The Lioness is the first Jason Molina project to fully turn away from the battlefield folk and deconstructed Americana of earlier Songs: Ohia recordings. At the dawn of the 21st century, the album felt modern. It aligned Molina with a new set of peers – Low, Gastr del Sol, Red House Painters and, most importantly, the influential Scottish band Arab Strap, whose producer and members were crucial in the creation of The Lioness. The avant-garde tones and arrangements of Arab Strap are absorbed here into Molina’s songwriting to create what would become, for many acolytes, the archetypal Songs: Ohia sound. Love and Work: The Lioness Sessions, the box set reissue, will serve as the seminal log of the era, complete with lost songs, photos, drawings, and essays from those who knew Molina best.

We know Molina was diligent in both love and work. He treated songcraft like a job at the mill, and his approach to romance was not so different. We know that when he fell in love with his wife, he was dutiful in his adoration. There were strings of love letters and poetic gesture. Included in this edition are replicated examples of this relentless love – an envelope with a letter from Molina, a photograph of Molina and his to-be wife, a postcard, a Two of Hearts playing card, and a personal check for one million kisses. Some of these items were gifts he would send to his new love from the road; others, like the 2 of Hearts, were totems he’d carry with him around this time as a symbol for his burgeoning love.

And so, the head-over-heels album that is The Lioness has its workman counterpart. Nearly another album’s worth of material was recorded in Scotland during the album sessions. While similar in tone and structure, the songs seem to deal in the grit and dirt of being. These are songs for aching muscles getting soothed in the third-shift pub. But they’re also examples of Molina’s diligence as he constructs what would be the essential elements of The Lioness. In addition to these outtakes, we also have a 4-track session made weeks earlier in London with friend James Tugwell. Comprised of primarily guitar, hand drums and voice, these songs are raw experiments that mostly serve to illustrate Molina’s well of words and ideas. But then, there is the devastating Sacred Harp hymn Wondrous Love. While he may have had his new love in mind, one can’t help but think of Molina’s legacy as he softly warbles “Into eternity I will sing / Into eternity I will sing.” You don’t have to try too hard to mythologize Molina. He did all the work for you.

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lots of new releases and reissues out tomorrow as well, the major titles including  –

New Ed Harcourt album ‘Beyond The End’.
A limited Morrissey 7″ – ‘Back On The Chain Gang’
A very limited Type O Negative coloured vinyl reissue of ‘Bloody Kisses’.
Three more Bauhaus reissues – The Bela Session, ‘The Sky’s Gone Out’ and ‘Press Eject…’.
Vol.2 of the Marc Bolan ‘Home Demos’ is finally out after some delay.
A very lovely looking Chic box set. along with the vinyl version Boxed Set of the Tom Petty American Treasure

And in other news…….
King Gizzard & The Flying Wizard 
coloured vinyl reissues are flying out – have you got your copies yet?
Mumford & Sons 
latest album is also selling fast on coloured vinyl.
the excellent new album from Marianne Faithfull.
Post Malone – ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys’.   

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Songs: Ohia ‘Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions’ ltd vinyl box set

Songs: Ohia – ‘Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions’ limited translucent purple coloured double vinyl LP.

The release also includes a 16-page booklet with photos and meditations by Jason’s family and collaborators, as well as replications of ephemera from Jason’s guitar case & life from the time (a handwritten love letter, a postcard, a 2 of Hearts playing card, and more)

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Hippo Campus – Bambi

Hippo Campus release their second album, Bambi through Transgressive Records. On their sophomore album Bambi, the St. Paul, Minnesota-bred band navigate that upheaval with deliberate self-reflection. The result is a selection of songs that drift into much darker terrain, but unfold with a frenetic yet fragile beauty that makes even the most painful moments feel glorious. Partly recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago, Bambi finds Hippo Campus working again with producer BJ Burton (Bon Iver, Low, Francis and the Lights), who handled production on their 2017 full-length debut Landmark. And in sculpting Bambi’s distinctly inventive arrangements, Hippo Campus significantly expanded their use of drum machines and synth. Throughout Bambi, Hippo Campus match their relentless self-examination with a joyfully adventurous sonic approach, ultimately transforming the emotional experience of the problems they’re exploring.

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Breeders ‘Safari EP’ ltd 12″ reissue

Being released this November as part of Record Store Day’s sister Black Friday event is a faithful repress of the 12” version of The Breeders’ Safari EP, complete with Shinro Ohtake’s 1983 charcoal drawing Nairobi VIII adorning its cover. Originally released in April 1992, sandwiched between their first two albums (Pod and Last Splash), The Breeders’ Safari EP came at a time when Kim’s Pixies commitments were winding down and her new band were on the cusp of releasing a platinum-selling album.

Their first record to feature Kim Deal’s twin Kelley, the EP was recorded in two studios with the bulk coming from a session in New York, which provided an early version of Do You Love Me Now?, Don’t Call Home and a cover of The Who’s So Sad About Us. The title track, Safari, was recorded separately in London by Kim, Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jon Mattock (Spacemen 3 / Spiritualized).

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Iggy & The Stooges – ‘Rare Power’

The untamed energy of Iggy and The Stooges comes to vinyl for Record Store Day Black Friday on Rare Power, a collection of rare tracks from the sessions that produced their landmark 1973 album Raw Power. Eight of these nine outtakes and alternate mixes are available on vinyl for the first time, and composer Josh Mobley’s remix of Gimme Danger (heard in the best selling video game Watch Dogs) is commercially available for the first time ever.

The Byrds – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo (4 X 12″ Vinyl LP)

By the time Sweetheart Of The Rodeo was released in 1968, The Byrds had already changed the sound of rock music twice; from jangling folk-rock to experimental acid-rock, they constantly sought to push the boundaries of what rock music could be. The 1967 departure of David Crosby left a creative void filled quickly by country music-loving Gram Parsons, whose addition led Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and company to record an album comprised mostly of authentic country material in Nashville, with the aid of local session aces (including future Byrd Clarence White). For the first time on vinyl—and on the heels of a 50th anniversary tour of the album by original members McGuinn and Hillman—this Legacy Edition of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo showcases this country-rock masterpiece alongside 28 bonus tracks, including demos, outtakes, rehearsal versions and tracks by Parsons’ pre-Byrds outfit, The International Submarine Band.

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Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Betty’s Midwestern Magic Blends

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is indisputably one of the hardest working bands in rock ‘n’ roll. 2018 marks the fourth year in a row that they’ll play over 200 shows across the U.S. and Europe. Through that prolific touring schedule, the band has emerged a razor sharp, riveting live unit. Each evening The CRB plays two sets of music with a dynamic, ever-changing setlist. Presenting original material stretching across six studio albums, plus a repertoire of covers that runs from Slim Harpo to Bob Dylan and beyond, it’s only fittng that the band would document this output. They’ve done exactly that through a series of live recordings dubbed, ‘Betty’s Blends’ taking its moniker from legendary Grateful Dead archivist and recording engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson who is called upon to capture The CRB’s performances in multi-dimensional, audio-verite. ‘Betty’s Midwestern Magik Blends’ is the fourth volume from the acclaimed series, gathering highlights from three shows in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago in October 2016. Available as a vinyl exclusive, 3-LP set with only 3500 copies released, the collection finds The CRB in peak form delivering highlights like “New Cannonball Rag,” “Forever As The Moon” and “Shadow Cosmos,” as well as adapting two from The Rolling Stones: “Down Home Girl” and “Let It Bleed” and the seldom played fan favorite, Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.”

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Violent Femmes – Permanent Record: The Very Best Of Violent Femmes

Permanent Record: The Very Best of Violent Femmes provides a comprehensive overview of The Violent Femmes historic recording career – beginning with tracks from their legendary debut up until their 2000 release, Freak Magnet. The compilation includes the original studio recordings for hit singles such as Blister In The Sun, American Music, Gone Daddy Gone, amongst others, and is a must have for both new listeners and devoted fans alike.

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Jeff Tweedy – Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)

Through his pioneering work in the legendary country-punk band, Uncle Tupelo, to his enduring legacy as the creative force behind the unclassifiable sound of Wilco, Jeff Tweedy has weaved his way between the underground and the mainstream – and back again.

Funny, disarming, and deeply honest, his memoir casts light on his unique creative process and the stories that shaped his life and career, from a childhood spent in Illinois to the release of No Depression in the early 90s – which set the blueprint for alt-country – and later working with Mavis Staples and, posthumously, Woody Guthrie.

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The Go Betweens – Right Here

Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, the founding members of seminal Brisbane band The Go-Betweens had been close friends and collaborators since their late teens some thirty years before. As it unfolds, we discover how relationships – both creative and romantic – are continually tested, challenged, remoulded and, in some cases, destroyed. The film truthfully exposes all the highs, lows, joy, pain, sorrow and beauty of being in a cult band and of trying to survive the harsh, brutal realities of an at times exploitative music industry. Unflinching, insightful and at times painfully honest, the film tells the story of The Go-Betweens from the inside out, from the people who lived it and from those whose lives were transformed by it.

This Week
Art Brut – ‘WHAM! BANG! POW! LETS ROCK OUT!’ LP
Bauhaus – ‘The Bela Session’ LP reissue
Bauhaus – ‘Press Eject & Give Me The Tape’ ltd white vinyl LP reissue
Bauhaus – ‘The Sky’s Gone Out’ ltd violet vinyl LP reissue
Marc Bolan – ‘Tramp King Of The City: Home Demos Vol. 2’ LP
Bouquet Of Dead Crows – ‘Motus Octo’ splatter vinyl LP
Breeders – ‘Safari EP’ limited 12″ reissue
Mansur Brown – ‘Shiroi’ LP
Lindsey Buckingham – ‘Solo Anthology’ 6LP Box set
Calexico – ‘The Black Light’ ltd clear vinyl 2LP reissue
The Chic Organisation – ‘1977 – 1979’ 5LP + 12″ vinyl box set
Ry Cooder – ‘Mambo Sinuendo’ 2LP
Deep Purple – ‘In Rock’ purple vinyl LP reissue
Deep Purple – ‘Fireball’ purple vinyl LP reissue
Ed Harcourt
 – ‘Beyond The End’ LP
Hippo Campus – ‘Bambi’ ltd coloured vinyl LP
Hozier – ‘Nina Cried Power’ ltd 12″ EP
Durad Jones & The Indications – ‘Live Vol. 1’ blue vinyl LP
Laibach – ‘The Sound Of Music’ gold vinyl LP reissue
Levellers – ‘Levellers’ ltd orange vinyl 2LP reissue
Amy Macdonald – ‘Woman Of The World: 2007-2018’ 2LP
Morrissey – ‘Back On The Chain Gang’ limited 7″
OST – ‘Dredd’ ltd red vinyl LP
OST – ‘End Of Days’ 2LP

Tom Petty – ‘An American Treasure’ 6LP Box Set
Planet B – ‘Planet B’ coloured vinyl LP
Irmin Schmidt – ‘5 Klavierstucke’ LP reissue
Songs: Ohia – ‘Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions’ ltd coloured vinyl box set
Mikael Tariverdiev – ‘Sevnteen Moments Of Spring’ LP
Transmaniacon – ‘The Strange World Of Suzie Pellet’ limited colour vinyl LP

Type O Negative – ‘Bloody Kisses’ ltd silver vinyl 2LP
Vessel – ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’ LP

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Evergreen is a new benefit compilation for Hour Children, an organisation that helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community with a view to building healthy, independent, and secure lives. You can pre-order it right now over on Bandcamp, both digitally and on cassette tape.

Released on July 10th, the compilation features  Hand Habits, Free Cake For Every Creature, Sitcom, and much more. Taken from said compilation,Fraternal Twin’s cover of Songs: Ohia’s “White Sulfur”, a tender reworking that sits in the nightly ether between both of the two artists’ work.

Inspired by one of its numerous, crushing passages, the kind of which Jason Molina so excelled at carving out of the paralysing emptiness (“It’s a very powerful, personal and actually pretty political lyric that seems to express something like a friend that lets you down in a big way“) Fraternal Twins’s take on the track is a dimly lit and beautifully fragile homage, Tom Christie’s wavering vocal drifting sullenly above the DIY-instrumentation that makes his own work such a compelling journey.

never forget it was triumph we once proposed
instead, you would trade our mission for mission words

White Sulfur is, since the first time I heard it years ago, one of my favorite songs,” Christie tells us about his choice to cover the track. “The guitar melody is just so bleak and Jason Molina’s voice resonates over the recording. It captures a very specific unnameable feeling for me…”

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