MONDAY

Lord knows that Jason Molina is a hardworking sumbitch. He’s had three releases in the 2005 calendar year. (OK, one was an EP and one was a live album, but still.) After years of releasing music as Songs: Ohia, he switched to the more blue-collar-sounding Magnolia Electric Co. Apologies to Bob Seger and the Boss, but Molina is definitely producing some of the best punch-the-clock rock in the country. However, Molina probably works the hardest when he is defending himself against accusations of sounding too similar to his musical idols. When he wails, “At least I don’t hide it” at the end of “The Dark Don’t Hide It,” he might as well be singing about his obvious debt to Neil Young’s lonesome sound. Molina should be used to comparisons; he was pegged as one of the first wave of Will Oldham imitators in the mid-’90s. I’ll buy whatever he’s selling as long as he keeps churning out such rock ’n’ prole tunes as “The Night Shift Lullaby” and “Hammer Down.” Maybe it’s my own romanticization of salt-of-the-earth integrity, but Molina’s identification with the calloused-hands class never rings false. His gravy-slathered guitar chops and guileless delivery more than make up for his lack of originality. At the end of “I Can Not Have Seen the Light,” the last song on his latest full-length, What Comes After the Blues, he asks, “Will I have to be all right all of the time?” to which guest vocalist Jennie Benford sweetly responds, “No one has to be all right all of the time.” Load up your lunch pail when Magnolia Electric Co. plays with Grand Buffet at 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15, on the Black Cat’s Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 667-7960. (David Dunlap Jr.)