Molehill is a 4 piece indie rock group that hails from Chicago. On this night they were playing at Joe’s on Weed, a nice modern mid-size venue, before a quick stint on the east coast. Molehill consists of drums, guitar, bass, and keys. They plays a brand of rock which draws a lot upon the blues, but not strictly, as there are obvious indie and R & B undertones occasionally mixed into their sound as well. Songs can quickly become funky or groovy as these guys seem to be proud of their assorted influences. Drawing upon this ability to instantly alter their energy level, they use being incredibly in-sync with each other as a way to punctuate each song emotionally as well as musically. Often they move from a rock sound, into a move groovier rhythm and sound, only to quickly revert back to their more aggressive side. Often this adjustment occurs when the chorus enters, but not always. Such honed synchronization is a sign of a band that is very well rehearsed, and makes for a good live show.
The first thing one notices when taking in the band is that the lead singer/guitarist (Peter Manhart) is quite adept at playing while moving around the stage exuberantly. He does not appear to like to stand still, instead choosing to try to entice the crowd to be as sincerely excited about the music as himself. The next thing you notice is their aforementioned ability to play energetic rock with various foundations. Their numbers On The Wall and I Hope You’re Happy had great side-step R & B feel to them, songs that couldn’t help but remind this author of New Orleans. Then on others like, Money Life, they take on a more plodding & edgy rock sound. Jumper came off slightly funky with the faintest hint of electrorock. Now to be sure, each song seems to be anchored in blues-rock. But by being dynamic with the undertones of their tracks they engaged their crowd well.
Molehill could probably benefit from including their keyboardist in a more dynamic manner on some of their tracks. On their 7th song of the evening, I’m Okay, the keys seemed to take the lead on the beat and it created for one of their more captivating songs of the evening. Also, seeing what they could have done with a more subdued song would have been nice, seeing their adept flexibility with more spirited rock numbers. However, they can probably be forgiven for that, as Bret Michaels was playing after them and they were aware of what type of crowd they were playing to. All in All, Molehill is a young band that has the raw talent and that ineffable ability to consistently “play in the pocket,” which must come from resolute practicing. They are quite definitely worth checking out.
“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