Jason Molina passed away this week as a result of organ failure. Starting in 1996, he released music under the name Songs: Ohia, accompanied by a rotating cast of other musicians. Later, upon Molina’s 2003 release The Magnolia Electric Co., his band was billed as such. From lo-fi folk to scorching roots rock, Molina represented heartland blues music at it’s most genuine. Like finding a forgotten bottle of red wine after exhausting a fridge full of Molsons listening to early Mazzy Star, Neil Young & Eliot Smith., Molina left much to be desired.
Somewhere around 14 or 15 years ago, Four Toad Sally recorded what would stand as both their first and last effort, Dolled Up & Dressed Like A Tramp. Laid down in the living room of drummer David P Fischer and featuring 4 songs mostly written by Dave Ebel, the EP remains as the memories of their days as a formidable East Valley bar band fade with time. Since, the members of 4TS have gone on to play in other bands and have successful professional careers outside of music, tracks like Last and Look Out makes one wonder just how far off, or how little late they may have been from being every bit as relevant as acts that did quite well in the post grunge alternative era. Here, you may listen (click on song title) or download (right click on title + save as mp3) the EP as you wish.
Band: Ball Slashers Date: 7.26.12 Venue: RT Quinlans Duluth, MN Recording: BR-600 Recording Quality: D- AUD Length: 31 Minutes. I was pretty boozy by the time the Ball Slashers took the stage at Quinlans last Thursday night. Minutes after they started packing up their gear, I, with mission like focus, b-lined straight for the exit and into the rig double parked outside & $20 worth of Taco Johns later I was passed out before 11:00 pm. The missing half hour or so of my journey (currently billed under a working title of Careful, Guy – going to the bar at noon and pretending sushi is actually substantive food = danger) is here for your listening pleasure.
It should be noted that this show took place on the same day that Satan, aka Jim Carlson and his Last Place on Earth was raided by a joint effort featuring the Duluth PD, DEA, FBI and IRS so Bath Salts has a particularly joyous significance to the night. Also when the opportunity for one lucky fan to climax via exercise ball mutilation arose – the ill equipt, sophomoric crowd shit the bed. During my previous Slashers experience, some awesome looking motherfucker emerged suddenly at the right moment to dismember someones mom’s yoga ball in the band’s ritualistic sacrifice, recklessly yielding a 14 inch bayou blade as bystanders muttered to themselves “Holy Shit! I’m pretty sure that isn’t legal to have in public”.
Toward the end of this gig, singer Jason Watt tossed the fully pumped stage prop my way. Though justifiably I feel I was only being cooperative in passing off the glory of deflation, first to this dude in the front row and next to a table of partygoers in the corner – I have the sinking feeling that kicking the two foot death ball at these people with the velocity of a 162 pound 6th grader with retard strength and a mental image of Reggie Jackson was a little over the top. Man, I didn’t spill drinks that got in the way – those drinks fucking exploded. Luckily, some girl heroically emerged with what was probably a nail file to subdue the madness and provide the band the synergistic momentum to finish their energetic set. Though I will take this opportunity to apologize to those affected – I blame my discourse that evening on high octane fun ass rock and roll mixed with a dirty rock club that chooses to carry 12 year old Scotch. If you see the Ball Slashers are playing any time in the near future, come check that shit out. Oh, and don’t forget to bring something sharp.
This morning, Girls singer and chief song writer Christopher Owens announced he would be quitting the band. Though he plans to continue writing and recording music, he didn’t provide any concrete details on how he would continue.
This is the studio live version taken from 2012’s iTunes Sessions.
Black River Killer by Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper has opened for Wilco on a handful of dates on their current summer tour concluding with stops in Duluth (7/1) & Rochester (7/2). The Portland quintet started 12 years ago and has released 5 albums including 2011’s American Goldwing. Furr which delivered the featured track here, ‘Black River Killer’, is considered their best to date and was critically acclaimed as well, charting at #13 on Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2008. As far as alt-county is concerned, Blitzen Trapper does folk right. In ‘Black River Killer’, they do folk gangster.
When Doves Cry by Prince
No, this is not a remix nor an obscure live track. Yes, it is the same old 28 year old version originally released on Purple Rain. No, Prince didn’t just die. There is really no reason whatsoever to resurface this track as a Song of The Day other than while listening to it during an elliptical workout yesterday it hit me like a sock full of nickles – Bob Dylan included, this may be the most prophetically awesome song ever recorded by a Minnesota artist.
Shock value aside, there is some merit this. Mainly in what the two artists mean to the state and the degree to which they were influenced by it. Granted, I spent a massive period of my late teens and twenties discovering the Eastwood polarization of the Bob Dylan catalog. The bakers dozen decade that transcended Bobby Zimmerman first into a household folk icon who later plugged in and held a unequivocal creative edge through 1976’s Desire can be seen as the “good”. The point in the late nineties where his mean streak erupted from a coma of complacency and showed both on stage on in the studio that he still had balls can be viewed as the bad (as in bad-assed). The ugly of course lies in the unspeakable 20 or so years in between.
Growing up in Northern Minnesota, you learn to adopt Bobby D as one of your own. For me it’s a little more personal. The man was born in the hospital across the street from where I currently live, raised in a town I pass through routinely when I go fishing and he came of age in his rough infancy as a performer in the same Dinkytown neighborhood I lived in at a similar age. Ironically, my office is located on Bob Dylan Drive in Duluth. Despite all the love, respect and admiration for the genius musician that myself like so many others around these parts hold dear, Bob Dylan is really a just an ungrateful prick when it comes to Minnesota.
He’s never done much to publicly acknowledge his upbringing here and will only speak vaguely about it when pressed by local media when an opportunity arises. Rumor has it that he was opposed to the renaming of Michigan Street here to honor him. In 1998 he returned to play a long awaited and heavily anticipated concert at the Duluth Arena yet didn’t mumble as much a sentence or integrate a special song to decipher the venue or crowd as being any different than any other show he’d ever played. No “it’s good to be home“. No Desolation Row or Girl From the North Country.
On the other hand, Prince was not only born in Minnesota but has maintained a lifelong residency here. In 1980, he made his television debut on American Bandstand to which the late Dick Clark remarked “this is not the kind of music that comes from Minneapolis, MN“. Soon his “Minneapolis Sound” scene would proliferate and be revered nationally through the 80’s featuring additional acts such as Morris Day, The Time, Sheila E and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He was responsible for the cult classic movie Purple Rain that brought street credit to the state. As a businessman, he has had ownership interest in a plethora of clubs in the Twin Cities. Not only is Prince a season ticket holder of the Minnesota Vikings, he wrote and recorded the song Purple & Gold in preparation of the team’s NFC Championship game in 2010.
Though anyone can rant and rave all they want that Dylan wrote more prophetic material in his heyday, you have to wonder if his life long distain towards the State of Lakes at some point rescinds his qualifications of being a true Minnesota artist. What you can’t disagree with is that When Doves Cry is timeless classic – melting a melodic fury of urban synth pop into a dark tale of internal confusion regarding the abnormally normal growing pains of adjusting, universal in both life and love. There was nothing like it before and there’s been nothing like it since. Tim Fischer Duluth, MN