Jason Molina, who built a dedicated fan base throughout the late ’90s and ’00s by fronting Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., died on Saturday from organ failure. His battle with alcoholism, brought to public light in 2011 by concerned family members, contributed to the cause of death. Only 39 years old at the time of his passing, Molina first released music under the Songs: Ohia moniker in 1996, a project marked by a rotating cast of musicians in addition to Molina’s continuous presence. Molina renamed the band to Magnolia Electric Co. in 2003, after releasing the critically acclaimed Steve Albini-produced album Magnolia Electric Co. under Songs:Ohia in April of that year. He went on to release three full-lengths and a couple EPs under Magnolia Electric Co., in addition to three solo albums – his final release being 2012’s Autumn Bird Songs.
Molina was under the Secretly Canadian label his entire career, and they released a statement that nicely summarizes his impact on the music industry and fans alike:
“This is especially hard for us to share. Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian. Without him there would be no us — plain and simple. His singular, stirring body of work is the foundation upon which all else has been constructed. After hearing and falling in love with the mysterious voice on his debut single “Soul” in early 1996, we approached him about releasing a single on our newly formed label. For some reason he said yes. We drove from Indiana to New York to meet him in person and he handed us what would become the first of many JMo master tapes. And with the Songs: Ohia One Pronunciation of Glory 7” we were given a voice as a label.”
Molina is a songwriter that will be sorely missed. Anecdotes suggest he was a fantastic person in addition to being one of the most talented figures of alternative-folk since the late ’90s. Optimistically, Molina’s passing will shed light on a wonderful discography that many music fans have neglected to seek out. Just a few highlights are below:
Magnolia Electric Co. – “Don’t Fade On Me”
Magnolia Electric Co – “Lonesome Valley”
Songs: Ohia – “Lioness”
I feel like I lost a brother even though we never met. I regret not being able to tell him what a profound affect that his music has had on my life. Rest in peace Jason.