Secretly Canadian

Magnolia Electric Co. - Trials & Errors

"This sounds too much like Crazy Horse," said Matt. "But is that really a bad thing?" said Jean-Pierre.

Something happened to Jason Molina three years ago. Not content to play his stark and introspective songs via his somewhat popular Songs: Ohia moniker, Molina opted for something more rocking, an outlet that took the music out of the stereo and live on stage. The subsequent moniker was dubbed Magnolia Electric Co. and the march toward retro American rock began.

Trials and Errors is a live album recorded in Brussels in 2003. Included here are ten tracks of which four are exclusive to this release, while three others will be featured on the upcoming Magnolia Electric Co. album, What Comes after the Blues, due sometime this spring.

This live release's finest moments are, of course, the new songs, which rock in a way that hasn't been heard since Crazy Horse's Rust Never Sleeps tour in '78. Beginning with the ultra-strong "Dark Don't Hide It," the band shows their incredible chops, including blistering lead guitar work and tight drumming. The track screams of Crazy Horse influences, not in homage, but more in terms of style. Light alt-country peppers the track in a way that is original and stylistically similar to bands such as Wilco and Son Volt at the same time. "Such Pretty Eyes for a Snake" treads similar water, which is what I imagine Molina's intention was when drawing on such obvious influences.

Previously-released tracks such as Magnolia Electric Co.'s "Almost was Good Enough" come out fairly well though do not add much that wasn't on the original recorded version. The end of the set features the trumpet-laden "Leave The City" and "The Last 3 Human Words," which are rather flat in comparison to the initial barn-burners in the beginning of the set.

Trials and Errors could be looked at as vindication for Molina given his choice to move on from his Songs: Ohia days; but as an essential live album, Trials and Errors leaves much to be desired. However, it does whet the appetite of the listener in hopes that the new Magnolia Electric studio album will rock like Molina always wanted to.

1. Dark Don't Hide It
2. Don't This Look Like the Dark
3. Such Pretty Eyes for a Snake
4. Almost Was Good Enough
5. North Star
6. Ring the Bell
7. Cross the Road
8. Leave the City
9. The Last 3 Human Words
10. The Big Beast