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Magnolia  Electric Co. — Fading Trails (2006)

 Magnolia  Electric Co. — Fading Trails (2006)

Magnolia  Electric Co. — Fading Trails
Birth name: Jason Andrew Molina
Born: December 16, 1973, Lorain, Ohio
Origin: United States
Died: March 16, 2013, Indianapolis, Indiana
Album release: September 12, 2006
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Duration:     28:19
Tracks:
01. Don't Fade On Me      (4:19)
02. Montgomery      (1:50)
03. Lonesome Valley      (3:34)
04. A Little At A Time      (3:07)
05. The Old Horizon      (3:10)
06. Memphis Moon      (3:15)
07. Talk To Me Devil, Again      (3:26)
08. Spanish Moon Fall & Rise      (2:43)
09. Steady Now      (2:55)
Members: Jason Molina, Mike Brenner, Jason Groth, Mike Kapinus, David Lowery, Mark Rice, Pete Schreiner
CREDITS:
Steve Albini  Engineer, Mixing 
Rick Alverson  Guest Artist 
Andrew Bird  Guest Artist 
Molly Blackbird  Guest Artist 
Mike Brenner  Performer 
Jonathan Cargill  Guest Artist 
Jason Groth  Performer 
James Lott  Engineer 
David Lowery  Performer, Producer  
Jason Molina  Engineer, Performer 
Greg Norman  Assistant, Mixing 
Henry H. Owings  Art Direction, Cover Design 
Mark Rice  Performer 
Pete Schreiner  Performer 
Miguel Urbiztondo  Performer 
Doug Van Sloun  Mastering 
Alan Weatherhead  Engineer, Mixing, Performer 
Nick Webb  Mastering 
Website: http://www.songsohia.com/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/songsohiajasonmolina
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Magnolia-Electric-Co/40721548363
Label: http://secretlycanadian.com/
Label description:
Jason Molina is not one to settle. Throughout his musical career of 12 plus years under his given name, Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., he has lived in 9 different locations and has had a dozen different backing bands on record in as many different recording environments.
Fading Trails represents 3 of these incarnations and 4 of these environments. Composed of recording sessions Molina and company did with Steve Albini at his Electric Audio Studio, David Lowery at his Sound of Music Studio, and at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, Fading Trails also features songs from the home recorded Shohola sessions. The essence of these recordings were extracted to create one cohesive being and thus defining what Magnolia Electric Co. truly is. Something that is hard to define. One head, multiple bodies... the opposite of a hydra head.
REVIEW
By Zach Baron; September 13, 2006  Score: 7.4
Though Fading Trails is more minor-key, and less allusive, than past Magnolia Electric Co. efforts-- there are fewer baseball references and cruel women-- it would a mistake to write this record off as the product of diminishing returns. The ghost-moons and wolf-Christs with which Jason Molina pays homage to the blues, again and again, are not lyrical crutches, but attempts to build through repetition. He's a romantic, conjuring up handfuls of dust and crescent moons, empty baseball diamonds, and lost horizons in the service of a vision of a world that doesn't quite exist, though we might all feel, at one time or another, as though we've glimpsed it.
On the first Magnolia Electric Co. album, Molina had his own heart split in two, and his response was the only one we could expect: "Half I'm going to use/ To pay this band/ Half I'm saving because I'm going to owe them." His stoic devotion to his own craft even over his own heart is, like it was and still is for Bob Dylan, both myth and more or less the truth. The only thing that matters to him, even above his own songs, is the freedom to play them, which is why Molina's project is intelligible only as an ongoing one. In recording sessions, he regularly tosses out whole records and writes new ones on the spot. His live sets are populated with songs he wrote as recently as that day. Those like myself who miss Songs: Ohia, because they prefer directness over guitar solos and vulnerability over big chords, can comfort themselves with the fact that in the continuum of Molina's music, everything is equally yesterday's news and, at the same time, the beginning of yet another song.
On Fading Trails, Molina leans on the blues because there's nothing else to lean on. "Maybe if I send back the blues/ Her broken heart/ She'll send back my mine," he wonders on "A Little at a Time", then asks, "You can't lose it all at once, can you really?" The blues hold his heart and his life ransom. "A Little", like opener "Don't Fade on Me", is minimal and twangy in the manner of Songs:Ohia's Didn't It Rain, on which cymbals kept time like rain and acoustic guitars were footsteps on dark, unlit and gravelly roads. And the electric flourishes of Magnolia Electric here feel more like weather than the oft-cited Neil Young or Warren Zevon, all ominous snarls and quick flashes of slide guitar. "Don't fade on me," he begs, but everyone besides his band always does.
So what's left? "Harmony onward, friend" is Fading Trails' one boast, nestled among "Lonesome Valley"'s organ plunks and slide flourishes. He's chosen solos and a backing band over touring and recording by himself, because being able to play every night, rain or shine, is the only redemption he believes in, and the more people, the more music.
But just because Molina's in man-at-the-brink, guitar-in-hand mode doesn't mean Fading Trails is a recast of What Comes After the Blues and the Hard to Love a Man EP. Nor does it account for the Songs:Ohia records, which in my book are consistently better front to back-- less because I liked the old arrangements more (which I did), but because he soft-pedaled and sold his lesser songs better. I'd say Fading Trails is the best Magnolia's done, unless you count the nominally Songs:Ohia-made Magnolia Electric Co., which I do, and which is still the best Molina product out.
Still, Fading Trails better synthesizes the old solo Molina with the post-Newport 65, as it were, Molina. There are more gems in gem form (some otherwise great Magnolia songs have turned out merely good, due to the way-long guitar breaks between practically every line)-- say, "Don't Fade on Me", "A Little at a Time", and "Steady Now"-- and less full-on, Zevon guitar bleat on the ostensible burners.
Best is how fully realized Molina's always meta-blues have become, how his whole mythology is finally looking in the mirror and acknowledging mutual dependence, if not real love. Molina, increasingly, is singing not at himself, the hard-to-love-man, but at the very Midwestern blues he's always been trying to create. "Nothing lives for nothing," sings Molina, and he is figuring out song-by-song what's opposite those voids.
Fortaken: http://pitchfork.com/
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In french:
Complément indispensable à l'album précédent, un peu court mais excellent.
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Review by Megan Frye  Score: ****
On Magnolia Electric Co's third album, the group takes things down a notch, not in quality but in distortion and intensity. The result is Fading Trails, a more intimate and thoughtful album that could serve as the soundtrack to the more bittersweet moments of a Western film. This could be in part because much of the guitar work and, on occasion, Jason Molina's vocals are incredibly reminiscent of Neil Young, who was the solo soundtrack to film noir Western Dead Man ("Don't Fade on Me" being the best example). The song sees a heavy drum beat take the forefront at times, and occasionally the ringing of a pedal steel, both of which give way to an onslaught of Young-esque solos. "Montgomery" is similar, though Molina's distressed vocals are at their most weary. Fading Trails is beauty in sadness, the melancholy tone of the music couldn't change even if Molina were singing about rainbows and puppies. The majority of songs incorporate multiple instruments to one extent or another, but a few tunes are bleak solos made up of Molina's detached vocals and either a piano or an acoustic guitar. Fading Trails is a much more quiet and reserved album than either Trials & Errorsor What Comes After the Blues and at times lacks the intrigue of the two previous releases, but it's definitely not an album to overlook. What the cathartic Fading Trails might lack in foot-tapping motivation, it makes up for in passion and honesty and is highly recommended for those who like to dig a little deeper for albums that get better each time they are played.
http://www.allmusic.com/
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Death:
Molina died on March 16, 2013, in Indianapolis as a result of alcohol abuse-related organ failure. He was 39. Henry Owings, a friend of the musician, published an article on his online music magazine Chunklet that said Molina had struggled with alcoholism for most of the decade leading up to his death. Owings also wrote that Molina had "cashed out on Saturday night in Indianapolis with nothing but a cell phone in his pocket with only his grandmother’s number on it."
Personal life:
Molina was married to Darcie Schoenman Molina. They were estranged at the time of his death, and the couple had no children.
Albums:
2005 Trials & Errors (live album)
2005 What Comes After the Blues
2006 Fading Trails
2007 Sojourner (boxset)
2009 Josephine
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REVIEW
By Emerson Dameron
The big fans get bigger, while the more tepid fans become relative ignoramuses. That’s how it goes with some bands these days. The Internet has lowered the premium on tape-trader savvy. You still need some courage to follow bands on tour and consort with other fans in person, but with a marginal investment of money and time, you can gather most of the “rare” material you can imagine.
When Jason Molina was known as Songs: Ohia, his music already fostered the sort of emotional connection of which fan cults are forged. As his Crazy Horse-y backing band Magnolia Electric Co. solidified, tapes became files and hard drives filled up with live recordings of unreleased songs. By the time Fading Trails was in the can, most of its tracks had circulated widely in numerous live versions, and the album itself had made fleeting appearances on SoulSeek.
If you’re not a big fan, you’re still insulated from all this. You’re busy looking at porn, playing fantasy baseball, or experimenting with color combinations for your custom backpack. You don’t want to clog up your connection downloading an hour and a half of some show in Iowa City.
Even if you know the old stuff, you’ll hear Fading Trails with fresh ears. You’ll notice the standard Molina themes (loyalty, betrayal, loneliness and trucker mysticism) and the standard Molina imagery (wolves, moons, hearts, owls, and other stuff that might make cool marshmallows in a bowl of cereal). Despite the relatively heavy guitars and relatively dense production (relatively dense, that is, for famed “engineer” Steve Albini), you’ll notice a similarity to the smart, earnest, complex material Molina played as Songs: Ohia. You’ll realize he probably loves Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, and this is probably what he wanted the whole time. And it suits him.
If you’re a big fan, you will have heard these songs as they were “road-tested.” If you’re like some fans, you’ll dislike the studio sheen. You’ll continue to miss the raw pain that Molina’s songs have lost over the years. (“Don’t Fade On Me,” “Lonesome Valley” and “Talk To Me Devil, Again” are certainly sad, wounded songs, but they’re cryptic, they’re rock-literate, and their most agonized moments do not touch the early stuff in terms of unvarnished human suffering.) But it’ll be a Magnolia record, so, as a super fan, you might like it on that count alone.
Which is better? Depends on your values. Nothing about Fading Trails indicates that Jason Molina cares one way or the other. As a songwriter and performer, he has not changed nearly as much as the world he lives in.
Fortaken: http://www.dustedmagazine.com/
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Magnolia  Electric Co. — Fading Trails (2006)

 

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