Thanksgiving evokes images of the things that really matter. As far as Minneapolis punk rock is concerned…forget Husker Du , forget The Replacements, and don’t even think about the Suicide Commandos – at least for a hot second. The Magnolias are what matter, and chances are you never even got to know them….
Back in their heyday, John Freeman and the Magnolias released a slew of albums that never quite garnered them much mainstream success. They were, however, enough to make them an underground regional favorite and gather them some considerable national praise. Although the band’s songwriting was certainly mildly derivative of Westerberg’s, it was by no means completely secondhand. While it’s clear that rough and tumble punk rock was the foundation upon which the band built all of their albums, they were ultimately purveyors of a more fluid, late 80s pop-radio persuasion.
Freeman, who was the Mag’s principal songwriter and only permanent member throughout the years, unleashed 5 full length albums on top of a five song EP. Four of these albums were released on seminal Twin Cities label Twin Tone Records (where the band found themselves in the company of their precursors, the Replacements) before they jumped ship and found themselves recording for LA indie label Alias Records. It was through Alias that the band released what is likely their best effort, Off The Hook, in 1992.
Although the band’s last full length came nearly ten years ago, they’re not down and out for the count. In fact, things are looking up. After an appearance at 2006’s SXSW down in Austin, and acquiring a European booking agent, the Magnolias have just extended their 20 year run indefinitely. Moreover, next month (Dec. 11) will see the release of “Better Late Than Never”, a compilation of unreleased tracks and demos, which will be available via a number of your favorite online retailers.
The two preview tracks are from the 1992 release “Off The Hook.” It’s likely one of my favorite albums, so look into it if you’re so inclined.
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