Songs: Ohia - Magnolia Electric Co. LP

(Secretly Canadian, 2003)


“In 2003, Songs: Ohia ended its run by releasing Magnolia Electric Co., which marked a musical shift from Molina’s six previously reedy and achingly intense albums under that moniker. Employing a full band instead of a revolving cast of collaborators, the album took its cues from ‘70s roots rock and country, with extra potency provided by legendary producer Steve Albini’s muscular engineering. Recording the tracks live in studio, Molina’s songs were given a freewheeling, collaborative shape — the lap steels, electric guitars, and fiddles allowed the material to have a sense of urgency, as well as a newfound freedom to explore space and textures. Though it’s billed as a Songs: Ohia record, Molina considered it the first Magnolia Electric Co. album, with 2002’s Didn’t It Rain being the last Songs: Ohia offering.

The magnificent “Farewell Transmission” opens Magnolia Electric Co., a southern jam that clocks in over seven minutes without ever meandering. Lyrically, it’s Molina at his best, introspective clarity complemented by churning, powerful riffs. “The real truth about it is no one gets it right,” he sings. “The real truth about it is we’re all supposed to try.” With these few words, Molina simply offered revelations into daily life with unflinching candor that wiped away any pretense. Following “Transmission” is the engaging, lap steel-heavy “I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost”, which perfectly segues into “Just Be Simple”, a delicate track on which Molina’s raw emotions are laid bare. The uniformly high quality of the songs in the first half of Magnolia Electric Co. makes for one of the more memorable A-sides in the genre.” - Josh Terry for Consequence of Sound