Songs: Ohia

The Magnolia Electric Co. (Secretly Canadian)

"Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone." In the space between John Mellencamp's existentialist "Jack and Diane" and the yearning truck-commercial twang of Bob Seger's "Like A Rock" lies the broken heart of classic Midwestern rock. It's territory well-known to Jason Molina, the Ohio-born leader of Songs: Ohia. Molina does with heartland rock what Will Oldham does with Appalachian folk: He captures the sadness inherent in the genre's best moments and imbues it with a fresh sense of despair.

Magnolia Electric Co. is Songs: Ohia's tenth album and its eight songs are the stories of an aging Jack and Diane read over a band that sounds like Neil Young at his slow-blazing height. "Farewell Transmission," the album's seven-minute opener, has Molina coupling the tale of a power failure with apocalyptic images of will-o'-the-wisps and "midnight with the dead moon in its jaw." Things are no lighter on "Just Be Simple," a near-rewrite of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" from a man undone by the complexities of real life. "You'll never hear me talking 'bout one day gettin' out," sings Molina. "Why put a new address on the same old loneliness?" Oh yeah, life goes on: a sobering aphorism that he and his Electric Company seem all too familiar with.

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