Oh, Bearded Magnolia | Buzz Blog

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh, Bearded Magnolia

Posted By on May 21, 2009, 10:56 AM

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BY BRIAN STAKER

When are we going to be done with the "mountain man" look?

Especially in indie rock bands, and alt-country bands in particular. Magnolia Electric Company last night almost all had that look, like they live so far back in the hills that there are no places to even purchase razors. At least the fad helps Zach Galifanakis appear somewhat normal.

Don't you go changing Zach.

But the Chicago outfit's singer Jason Molina, clean-cut in a Hawaiian shirt, looks like he stepped out of Weekend at Bernie's or some other 80s movie. His voice, however, has that ring of veracity, a little bit like an alt-country Neil Young, combining the biting sense of pain with a stoicism to stand at a distance, but not an ironic one. Rarely has an alt-country band milked so much out of a minor chord, except they aren't milking it. Why is it so pleasurable to hear a sad song? Perhaps because, as Sir Elton John put it, "sad songs say so much."

The centerpiece of the show was the song "Hard to Love a Man," from the 2005 EP of the same name, one of their better-known songs,thematically typical, the task difficult because "leaving is what you do." Their songs are slow, measured as though time was kept by the sound of a lover's footsteps fading off into the distance. But these musical paintings of pathos kept the crowd at Urban Lounge hanging around. Magnolia Electric Co is headed to Torrey tonight with The Black Hens and Band of Annuals. Make the drive if you can.

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