Songs: Ohia

Protection Spells

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The second of three full-length albums Jason Molina released as Songs: Ohia in 2000, Protection Spells was also the second sickeningly limited-edition LP he had released in as many years. Like 1999's The Ghost LP, Protection Spells was written and recorded in a very short amount of time and only 500 copies of it were pressed, all of which were sold on one of Molina's tours. Recorded at home, the album sounds more often than not like a collection of demos, but that doesn't mean the record should be written off and ignored altogether; the songs almost make up for the spotty sound quality. Protection Spells is quite possibly the most processional Songs: Ohia album yet; the songs trudge steadily along -- determined, to be sure -- but never break loose from a slow, heavy dirge. The best moments come with the buzzing, vibraphone-accented opener "Trouble Will Find You" and "The One Red Star," a tender number characterized by acoustic guitar and piano that's reminiscent of the Dirty Three's more bucolic work. It can be infuriating for fans (especially for those of bands who inspire such unwavering devotion as Songs: Ohia) when entire albums are released as limited-edition or tour-only pieces. Such is the case with Protection Spells, though it was probably best that it was relegated to its status as a minor LP. Had it been given a proper release, folks only would've been disappointed.

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