Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Revinylization Project: Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co.

I avoided Jason Molina and his Songs: Ohia for a long time. I always tried to separate Ohio from that idea we were a state full of hicks who pronounced our home state "Ohia". It seemed as if Molina's band was poking fun at that. So, I wanted nothing to do with it.

Eventually, something I read or heard made me decide that I needed to check out Molina's work. I posted an inquiry on Twitter as to which album should begin my study. The Magnolia Electric Co. was the only suggestion.

The album really is amazing. Since I'm worse than a lazy rock critic (a blogger), I'll just make some lame analogies and comparisons. Molina is like Will Oldham who sings an octave or two lower and is backed by the Eagles. Songs: Ohia sound like the Jayhawks with better songs and a softer/gentler Uncle Tupelo. This album reminded me why I ever proclaimed love for that is.

The insert consists of more of the same artwork as on the sleeve and a photocopy of liner notes scribbled onto notebook paper. The artwork is really quite mesmerizing in its complexity and ugliness. It's very reminiscent of Okkervil River's album artwork. The pen and ink illustrations of strange ugly, mutated forms with bird-like characteristics all over are both haunting and strange. Steve Albini is mentioned as the one who recorded the album. Interestingly, Scout Niblett contributed to the record as well. The rest of the liner notes is a short letter from Molina cryptically explaining the composition process.

As mentioned in the insert, the artwork is truly menacing. You can see the cover above and the back side below for a better idea of what I'm saying. The inside of the sleeve features a slightly out of focus black and white photo of the band.

I wasn't expecting extras, but I got them anyway. There was a digital download that not only featured this really great album, but also featured all the demos for the record. The stripped-down versions of Molina's songs really expose them for the beauty within this work. Also, there is at least one bonus track in the download, but I'm too lazy to figure out the track's title right now.

The record is nothing special. However, the Secretly Canadian label is pretty slick with its silver-on-white print job and snazzy, retro logo.

You should buy this record because it really is a fine example of Midwestern Plus, if you live in COMO, Mr. Molina is coming to town later this spring. This could be a nice preview before the show.


stearns said...

Hey, Zac, I love Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. Glad you're on the bad wagon. Hope the show in COMO rocks!

Pizza Cottontail said...

If you can get your hands on Sojourner, it's worth a listen. Not as magical as this album, but still good.