Songs: Ohia Biography

The creation of US artist Jason Molina, a prolific singer-songwriter who also records under the Magnolia Electric Co. name. Molina’s folk rock sound and introspective lyrics draw on songwriting icons such as Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. The young Molina split his time between West Virginia and Lorain, Ohio, before he began performing in the Cleveland area as a member of local heavy metal bands. Eventually, he shed his desire to play crunchy riffs, resulting in the formation of Songs: Ohia in the mid-90s. Specializing in sparse songs dealing with tales of heartache and lost love, Songs: Ohia debuted with two singles in 1996, ‘Nor Cease Thou Never Now …’ and ‘One Pronunciation Of Glory’. Molina issued two excellent solo albums under the Songs: Ohia name before assembling a backing unit. Vocalist Edith Frost, violinist Julie Liu (of Rex), and guitarist Michael Krassner (of Boxhead Ensemble) joined Molina on 1999’s Axxess & Ace, fleshing out his basic folk melodies to great effect.

By the dawn of the new millennium, Molina was living in Bloomington, Indiana. He issued two regular studio albums in 2000; The Lioness featured vocalist Aidan Moffat and percussionist David Gow (of the Scottish band Arab Strap), plus singer-songwriter Alasdair Roberts (previously of Appendix Out), while Ghost Tropic earned comparisons to Lou Reed’s 1973 downbeat classic, Berlin. The ever prolific Molina also completed a tour CD, Protection Spells, as a follow-up to the previous year’s The Ghost. 2002’s gospel-tinged Didn’t It Rain was recorded live with vocalists Jennie Benford and Jim Krewson, while the notorious rock producer Steve Albini oversaw sessions for the following year’s The Magnolia Electric Co. The latter was recorded with Molina’s touring band and strayed into Bruce Springsteen territory with a series of blue-collar laments, with Lawrence Peters and Scout Niblett providing lead vocals on two of the album’s tracks. The album title also served as the moniker for Molina’s new recording unit, although his next release (2004’s Pyramid Electric Co. ) was put out under his own name. Magnolia Electric Co. completed two albums at the start of 2005; the live set Trials & Errors and the Albini-engineered studio album What Comes After The Blues.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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