I always love artists who pull unexpected rabbits out of their heart. After enjoying Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers’ debut release Stuck in a Daydream’s creative use of Americana to advance her outstanding songwriting, I wouldn’t expect the next song I hear from her to sound like “Sick of Me”. She jettisons the narrower approach of the first album on her and the band’s second effort Get Loose takes a broader based approach incorporating her debts to rock, blues, psychedelic, and punk songwriting. “Sick of Me” takes up the punk baton and carries it into Hanmer’s own personal territory as the lyrics chronicle the loneliness, frustration, and anger she experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her vocal phrasing never messes around. Despite the lack of finesse, however, there’s still a method to her madness as she manages to bring together several emotions explored in the lyric. Managing to balance the word’s emotional demands while still spitting fire is one of the many hallmarks of a first rate singer present throughout this single. She brings unquestioned commitment and there isn’t a single listener out there who won’t believe her. Her and co-writer/manager Claudia Miles have written a lyric perfectly suited for both the singer and song.
The musical wallop the four members hit you with is hard to forget. The twin guitar attack of the opening riffs in such a way that it feels like the song is building the needed momentum to steamroll listeners. It never quite does, but it does leave you impressed with their enthusiasm and their rambunctious slant on the punk genre. I never hear a single moment during the song I can identify as the band aping another act and it never sounds like pastiche. Instead, “Sick of Me” sounds like a full-throated declaration of where Hanmer was at a particular point in her life. She effortlessly taps into those experiences.
Lead guitarist Mickey Madden plays a wiry solo during the later half of the track that I’m a big fan of. It’s the perfect touch, never overstated, for this point in the track and the band ably underpins his efforts. The powerful rhythm section of bass player Alan Hampton and drummer/percussionist Keith Palmer keep the song purring at a steady hum and are never showy. The aesthetic of serving the song is strong with these four musicians and all things are possible when a group shares common ground in such a way.
Let’s hope Molly Hanmer and the Midnight Tokers stick around for a longtime and avoid the usual trappings of a band’s life such as breakups or replacements. The four members share an unique chemistry, I believe, and it will only grow as the years go by. “Sick of Me” is a romping single from a band I didn’t know had it in them but, rest assured, I’ll never doubt them again. They have everything a dyed in the wool rock fan such as myself craves from their music and I hope they keep serving it up indefinitely.
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