Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers mix Americana, blues, rock & roll, folk, psychedelia, and even Bossa-Nova that makes it a unique sound in its own right. The Los Angeles quartet is the brainchild of Molly Hanmer, formed in 2015 to continue her musical journey. The band is now formed by Molly Hanmer (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Songwriting), John Bird (Organ, Wurlitzer, Piano, Backwards Piano, Vocals), Graham Chapman (Bass Guitar, Stand-up Bass, Vocals) Keith Palmer (Drums, Percussion, Vocals). Together they mix a multitude of influences and styles, with their music usually labeled as psychedelic folk-rock. Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers’ style switches it up, making you stamp your boots on the floorboards and clap along on one track; and weep, pull out your journal and express bottled up feelings on the next. Their debut album “Stuck In A Daydream” was released Fall 2018. “Stuck In A Daydream” by Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers is a contagious folk album that showcases the collective’s chemistry and undeniable skill.
The album begins with “Take a Walk with Me”, a high energy track with an infectious melody and groovy rhythms that are easy to dance along to. This is the kind of song that needs to be heard live to fully enjoy the experience of Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers. “Real Love” is a more mellow track that highlights the emotive lyricism and poetry of Molly Hanmer. We love the free flowing sound arrangements and overall positive energy this band puts out into the world. “Fool’s Run (Different Song” is a retrospective track that tells is heavily laden with storytelling elements and rhythmic textures. The evidently bluegrass tune allow listeners to escape into the music and spectacular vocals by Molly.
As the album transitions into “Old Number Seven” were introduced to a bouncing drum-line that demands attention. With a saloon style organ laying down a flowing melody and Molly Hanmer delivering sultry vocals, this is an instant hit in our books. “Love Song” is a light-hearted tune that quite obviously takes on the theme of the title. Molly’s versatile and angelic vocals take centre stage to take you on a journey through the music. Another melancholic, yet pleasantly mellow track is the title track on the album “Stuck in a Daydream”. With an alluring key change featured half-way through, “Stuck in a Daydream” is a song about loneliness and finding a sense of belonging. That’s the way this track resonates with me. Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers have the admirable quality of creating lyrics that can be interpreted differently depending on the listener.
“Come Back” is an upbeat and energetic song with a clear and soaring voice, eloquent and tasteful fingerstyle guitar playing, and a knack for lyrical detail with songs steeped in stories from the heart. “Outlaw Blues” has a melodically refreshing sound and a quirky theme to it, the blues anthem takes listeners on a ride through the diversity of Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers’ sound. “Drag You Along” takes another pace change with it’s mellow bossa-nova attitude. Molly’s tone completely takes a 180 as her smokey voice moves through the speakers.
“Workers’ Lament” is a sing along anthem for anyone from all walks of life to enjoy. Folk-laden and contagious. Get ready to be swept away into a powerful story, soulful lyricism and flawless vocals backed by vulnerable and emotive poetry. As the album approaches conclusion, “Dead Happy” switches things up with its groovy, psychedelic rhythms and tight grooves. The concluding and final track on “Stuck In A Daydream” is “Mama’s in the Spirit World Now. Grab your tissues and enjoy Molly’s raw and honest narrative. Whether the song brings you comfort, sadness or just a mesmerizing acoustic set, it’s heart-wrenching and beautiful. The album “Stuck In A Daydream” is a brilliant musical masterpiece. It’s a true success for a debut album. We love what this group brings to the table and we can’t wait to hear what they deliver next. Stay tuned!
Check out “Stuck In A Daydream” here and read more with Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers below!
Welcome to BuzzMusic! How did you meet? How did Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers come to fruition?
I grew up hearing lots of music, and was a big Beatles fan from an early age. My dad played guitar and so when I was about 9 years old I would mess around with that eventually taking lessons at 13. My musical world changed when I first heard Bob Dylan at 15. Dylan spoke to me in a very genuine way. I wrote my first song in 2010 then called "Song to Bob," an homage to Dylan's "Song to Woody." I didn't consider a career in music, because it seemed like such a long shot so I moved to SF and started college. In my 2nd year, I met Claudia Miles who is now my manager and she wanted to know why I wasn't pursuing music. The truth is, I didn't think I was good enough or that it was practical. Claudia thought that was crazy. She began to challenge me about that notion and urged me to write songs. As I began to write, I realized I *had* to pursue music, practical or not. I would never be able to live fully without pursuing my passion. Eventually we both moved to Los Angeles, and with Claudia's help, I formed a band, Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers. We met John Bird and Keith Palmer out at local clubs in LA. I immediately recognized that they were superb musicians. They had been playing with one of my dad’s friends, Terry Barbieri, and with Claudia’s help I worked up the courage to ask if they would also like to be in my band. We all clicked and we’ve been family ever since.
What is the main theme for your album “Stuck In A Daydream”?
A theme common throughout Stuck in a Daydream is the struggle to navigate one’s journey through life. Whether it’s bills, or politics, or relationships, or family, we are expected to keep it together regardless of how broken down we are feeling. My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 54 in 2015 while I was writing this album, and that was devastating. But the world kept turning, work kept calling, the album still needed finishing. The 2016 election swept the world into an unprecedented dark place as this fascist buffoon somehow made his way into the White House. So I think a lot of the songs on here are exploring the struggle to keep up with an ever changing world, while somehow finding a way to stay present and connect with others.
Can you tell us the meaning behind the lyrics in the title track “Stuck In A Daydream”?
The song “Stuck in a Daydream” was inspired by my inability to communicate my feelings in a relationship, but it goes beyond that. To communicate your feelings you have to be able to identify what it is that’s going on inside one's self in the first place, and that’s not always clear or easy to know. Especially if you’ve learned to put your needs second the way I did, identifying your wants and grievances can be a difficult task. The opening line of the chorus is “How can I tell you what goes on, when I don’t know myself.” In other words, if I don’t know how I feel or who I am, how am I supposed to communicate to you what that is?
What was the writing process like for this album?
I wrote "Stuck in a Daydream" and "Drag You Along" while I was in the studio, the same year my mother died. For a time, writing songs and showing up felt more like work than joy, and I thought something was wrong with me. I didn’t have to confidence in myself to write original songs that were worth anything. It took a minute to realize that that was simply because I was grieving the death of my mom. One of the songs on the album, "Drag You Along," was written about trying to put one foot in front of the other while grieving a loss. That time was pretty surreal. It was hard to have the energy to record, but I did it. And I dedicated the album to my mom. I'm really glad she had the opportunity to hear me play and hear a lot of the songs that are on that album before she died.
What’s next for Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers?
We’ve just recorded some new songs with *two* 2-time Grammy winners, Sheldon Gomberg and Billy Mims for our second album. Rather than self-releasing this one, we are talking to labels this time and plan to release it through a label. We want to tour, either on our own or with another band so that we can finally bring the live show to our fans across the country. The best way for people to find out about new shows and new releases is to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify or any streaming service of their choosing! We want to keep making the best music we can and getting it to our fans, and by following us on those platforms fans can help us do just that.
Be sure to check out more on Molly Hanmer via her social media below!