Beck was one of the first artists that commanded my attention. I remember putting in Odelay when I was 13 years old and being completely engrossed in how this artist (along w/ co-producers The Dust Brothers) would piece together snippets of noise and melody into something that felt strangely organic. Beck has the unique ability to take a standard pop song, remove an element and insert something back into that place that traditionally wouldn’t “work” and create something that is as close to original as I have ever heard. Beck is an exceptional songwriter, sound designer, consummate performer, and has a chameleon-like ability to shift between genres and styles to make something that is instantly recognizable as Beck.
His 2002 album Sea Change (I know I’m skipping a few–but there’s just not time to write about all of them) is one of my favorite albums of all-time. This is the strongest songwriting I have ever heard from Beck and the master string arrangements by his father David Campbell push you even further into Beck’s world. The songs on Sea Change were written in one week.
Last year Beck released a collection of 20 original songs in a format that is long forgotten. Sheet Music. Read his full explanation HERE. I have always wanted to cover a Beck song with Molehill and this album of sheet music took us off the hook. We didn’t need to try and pick a favorite Beck song and put something out that stood up to his body of work. Instead, we could take the sheet music that he gave to everyone and be completely clear of the cloud that can hang over someone when trying to present a version of a previously recorded song. The first of the two songs that we would like to present to you is “Please Leave A Light On When You Go.” This is Molehill in a more intimate setting recorded in Kate Quinby’s apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Audio and Video was recorded by Zack Whittington.
We hope you enjoy it.
“Do not be fooled by the name. Molehill is more like a mountain. Combining elements of progressive rock with pop sensibilities and emotionally charged lyrics, this band delivers a symphonic listening experience.” - Jesse Menendez, Vocalo, 89.5FM Chicago
The first time Peter and I strapped in and felt Devin hit the groove, we knew we had something. We didn’t know if it was any good but it felt right. We met ‘the sunshine’ Greg. Since then, we’ve driven all over the country and experienced dirty motels, great people, missed exits, and the freedom of it all. It’s therapy, I really don’t know what we’d do without it.
So here we are, releasing our third set of songs. It’s just as exciting as it ever was to release music into the wild. ‘Hearts on Fire’ seems to be an appropriate song to put out there. I don’t think we’ll ever get over writing songs that feel good in large spaces. Greg came in with the searing lead synth, Peter wrote lyrics inspired by the Euromaidan, and Dev and I banged out a rhythm track. It’s simple and straight to the point, except for those lava rocks J threw into the mix...That’s the charm of writing a simple song. Some of them just come easily.
Some songs, or should I say arrangements, don’t come so easily. ‘Reverie’ started off as a three chord bridge in one of Greg’s songs. What followed was ridiculous in some ways. I think we have somewhere around 300+ emails dedicated to this song and its direction. Dozens of recorded versions later, we got to Nashville and threw a bunch of it away. Get away from your computer and interact, suddenly everything is more visceral and real. The process was worth it.
‘Old Soldier’ started in late November 2014 after I learned that my grandfather wasn’t doing so well. His reflections on his experience in WWII and remarkable life stay with me every day. It only seemed appropriate to use the last voicemail he left me during the outro. When I sent the music over to Pete and he returned the ‘option 5’ melody idea for the verse, I cried. This song is meditative to me. It combines Pete’s ethereal vocal with that West Coast hip hop beat we love so much.
I think we made something that’s honest. We hope you enjoy it.
Chicago, IL | January 2017