Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Magnolia Electric Co.

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I had a hard time warming up to Jason Molina's country-rock band: considering how much power he had when he kept things stripped down as Songs: Ohia, why gild the lily? But since he moved to Chicago last year after a stint in Indiana, his music really seems to be jelling. The songs on Magnolia Electric Co.'s new album, Fading Trails (Secretly Canadian), are drawn from material recorded at home and at three different studios--Electrical Audio, Sun Studios, and David Lowery's Sound of Music--but what could have seemed like a bunchy patchwork quilt instead feels holistically integrated. The slinky weeper "Montgomery" could pass for early Jason & the Scorchers in slow-burn mode, and the languid "Lonesome Valley" does a credible Crazy Horse without slipping into cliche. But I still think Molina's at his most effective when he lets his words carry the song, like he does on the brooding "A Little at a Time." Fog and Arriver open. a 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+.

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