We are extremely pleased to announce the release of “Trouble at Jinx Hotel”, the fourth album from sprawling Montréal ensemble, Molasses. This inspired example of the group’s utterly original music displays the raw, world-weary voice of old Americana, the abandon of improvisation and experiment, the spiritually-charged atmosphere of church music, and the adventure of the avant-garde… all swirling around the musings of singer-songwriter Scott Chernoff, whose poetic confessionals have been compared to illustrious songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Will Oldham. Molasses itself also gets many disparate comparisons, best illustrated by this line from the Boston Phoenix: “Sweepingly cinematic, cracked-dry arrangements take in everything from disembodied bowery guitar orgies to lonesome whistles ’round the bend, tracing an unlikely path from Skip James to Sonic Youth.” But make no mistake: this is not music caught between worlds — it is music made in a world of its own…
…Music for guitars, strings, banjo, oud, percussion, piano, organ, harmonium, singing saws and voice. Thirteen titles and ten tracks from some of North American underground music’s brightest lights, featuring members of the Shalabi Effect, set fire to flames, GY!BE, Codeine, Come, Boxhead Ensemble and the Bonnie Prince Billy band.
“Trouble at Jinx Hotel” didn’t begin as a Molasses record so much as it evolved into one. Scott initially went alone into the studio at Montréal’s infamous Hotel2Tangoto record a handful of sparse guitar songs. Then, just to see what would happen, he invited fifteen Molasses musicians in to improvise arrangements around the loose compositions. The result was some of the most exciting and adventurous music this collective of friends has ever made. But there was also misadventure, strange and ugly circumstances that inspired Trouble’s name and which are all tragicomically recounted in the liner notes.
“Trouble at Jinx Hotel” opens with the spine-chilling music of an Iraqi air-raid siren and ends 43 minutes later with “Songs From the Basement,” a dissonant finale whose lyrics refer to all the music which precedes it: songs of love and hate; songs of sorrow and hope; songs sacred and profane: There’s the choral protest of “La La La, Amerika,” sarcastically borrowing words from the inscription on the Statue of Liberty; the sultry and slow-creeping “Saint Christopher’s Blues,” awash in tremolo and violin; the strangely Middle Eastern “You Can’t Win,” written on the road to New York City in the wake of September 11, 2001; the mournful bowed-piano ballad, “No Love Lost”; and the quietly lovely little lullaby, “Lynn Canyon Wedding Song.” There’s also a ferocious version of the old blues “Trouble in Mind,” a massive, haunting rendition of the 1930s Kid Prince Moore gospel, “Sign of Judgment”; and “Miss Peach’s Pawnshop,” Scott’s eerily autobiographical adaptation of a prayer by acclaimed Canadian poet Hilary Peach. Cut among these songs are some stunning drone-driven outros and four instrumental interludes culled from field-recordings, found sounds and makeshift instruments.
Molasses receives lavish praise from around the world for its music and for the exquisite hand-crafted packaging of its albums. Most recently, the esteemed French music and culture journal Les Inrockuptiblesnamed their spectacular third album, A Slow Messe, among the fifteen best releases of 2003. Troubleis a stellar addition to Molasses’ fine discography, well-deserving of new accolades. It is housed in a beautiful tea-green gate-fold sleeve featuring a hotel photograph by viola player David Michael Curry; inside is a startlingly intricate lyric sheet, hand-lettered by Scott in Tokyo, where he is temporarily living and recording new songs with Molasses co-vocalist Jennifer Ménard.