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Concert Review: Magnolia Electric Co. @ Lee's Palace

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Magnolia Electric Co. @ Lee's Palace, Toronto - Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

[blurb]Two-hundred or so diehards ventured out on a humid and rainy night to Lee's Palace - the venerable club located in Toronto's trendy Annex area of Bloor Street - to catch Jason Molina's latest project, the country/roots rock outfit Magnolia Electric Co..[/blurb] The band was in top form, launching into many guitar-led jams anchored by Molina's impressive original songs. The "other" Jason, (Groth), was a constant distraction (in a good way), thanks to one fiery guitar solo after another... and a frizzy mane that he liberally flailed. Molina has a shy stage demeanor, but he still lures you in with his vulnerable singing voice and crunchy Gibson guitar. Given Molina's constant and inevitable Neil Young comparisons, it wasn't a big surprise that the night was filled with Tonight's The Night styled songs. Their newest album, Fading Trails, was released on Tuesday and fittingly, the seventy minute set was dosed with several impressive new cuts, which continue the Crazy Horse vibe heard on their 2005 breakthrough studio debut, What Comes After The Blues.

All the set's songs were well chosen and efficiently aired-out; the most impressive being first-rate takes on "Northstar Blues" and "The Dark Don't Hide It" from their '05 release and "Don't Fade On Me", "Memphis Moon" and the short but sweet "Montgomery" from Fading Trails. When in Magnolia Electric Co., Molina more or less distances himself from his trademark sparse eerie folk tunes (heard on his solo efforts and on releases from his previous band Songs: Ohia). It's too bad for this apparent apathy, because Molina's unaccompanied solo one-off encore was the most effective and emotionally charged song on the night. Even though the gig was light on length, Magnolia Electric Co.'s brand of throwback garage rock from the country made for a great evening of music.

*** (out of 5)

by David Jaimoe Ball

Sept. 13/06

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