Friday Download: Jason Molina

April 13, 2013
04122013-bt-fridaydownload-jason-molina

Every week, we spend time getting lost in the stacks at archive.org. Each Friday, we offer up a few of our favorite preserved objects and found moments. This week: we remember Jason Molina, with a short survey of live shows kept in kind by archive.org. Read on for the torrent links.

Friday Download: Jason Molina

1. Southgate House / Newport, Kentucky / 2002
2. The Earl / Atlanta, Georgia / 2007
3. The Fire Escape / Citrus Heights, California / 2009

Jason Molina, who recorded variously as Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., and under his own name, passed away in mid-March. He was 39, and had lost a private and organ-ravaging battle with alcoholism. Molina’s music reveals a creative restlessness as he shifted monikers and evolved his sound from the spare, haunting folk of early Songs: Ohia album, to the more robust country rock of Magnolia Electric Co.

An enigmatic and compulsively prolific songwriter in the vein of Townes Van Zandt or Neil Young, Molina worked in full command of his vision. Steve Albini, who engineered several of Molina’s albums, claimed Molina never second-guessed his musical choices, often recording songs written only hours earlier in single takes.

Molina’s lyrics reflect a cartographer’s precision in conveying the darkness that often surrounded him. His quavering voice strikes out against the bleakness like reportage from the frontlines of desperation, depression, and decay. One of his best songs, “Farewell Transmission,” from the 2003 Songs: Ohia album The Magnolia Electric Co., all but confirms this: “Listen,” he shouts as the song both ascends and disintegrates around him. His sheer insistence and presence in the face of pain offers a sort of hard-won grace.

These three shows on archive.org show Molina’s songwriting at full force as he moves from Songs: Ohia to Magnolia Electric Co., his impassioned wail beacon-like and always searching.

The review was handmade by BitTorrent friend John Schreder.

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