The Mother Hips – Kiss the Crystal Flake

by Woody on April 8, 2007

The Mother Hips

Kiss The Crystal Flake, The Mother Hips first full-length release after a five year hiatus shows that the San Francisco outfit is still on top of their game. It’s like they never left. Their sixth release still finds Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacano harmonizing over the country-tinged California soul that has earned them legions of die-hard fans. The Hips have always delivered a collection of catchy pop-hooks with music that owed a great debt to 60’s artists such as The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. This album follows the same tried and true pattern, but it sounds like the boys have grown up a bit.

“This album is almost like a debut album for us,” said singer/guitarist Tim Bluhm. “It is very different from anything we recorded in the past. You know that saying about wishing you knew then what you know now? Kiss The Crystal Flake is that coming true.”

The opening track, “Mission In Vain” is one the Hips’ strongest ever, easing any concerns I had about the long layoff. That song does an amazing job at setting the tone for an incredible album that doesn’t have a single weak song. The rest of the album features a little bit of everything for everybody. A couple of guitar rockers in “No-Name Darrell” (the chorus in this sounds like something from an early Foo Fighters song) and “White Hills,” both penned by Loiacono. There’s a couple of hip-shakers written by Bluhm in “TGIM” and “White Headphones”. Then there’s “Not So Independent,” a brilliant ballad that blends Bluhm’s voice with some crunching guitar in the mold of CrazyHorse. “Let Somebody” is another ballad that sounds like it belongs in a 1970’s Robby Benson movie and “Time-Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear” sounds like an outtake from Part-Time Goes Full.

I’ve been a Hips fan for well over 10 years now and was excited when they ended their hiatus a couple of years ago. Red Tandy, their 2006 EP, was a nice treat, but Kiss The Crystal Flake is a fantastic 10 course meal that I just can’t get enough of. I know its just April, but in my estimation, this is the best release so far this year.

The Mother Hips – Time-Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear

The Mother Hips – Not so Independent (Courtesy of Obscure Sound – check their review also)

The Mother Hips – Time We Had (Also courtesy of Obscure Sound)

The band also has a great video at http://www.motherhips.com/ that shows them recording in the studio with some interviews.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

oz April 8, 2007 at 10:56 am

I couldn’t agree more. I think this is their strongest effort to date and Mission in Vain is a great opener. I love the first line, “The purpose of my mission was to see the ocean” and then the chorus, “Why does time keep movin’ on so quickly? Why can’t I distinguish dusk from dawn?” Great guitar solos and so well written. That song is perfect.

brian April 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Just got the album in the mail have listened to it 3 times already. Pretty good but I must respectfully disagree — doesn’t rock enough, and the harmonizing is not as good as previous albums. For Hips fans I think its exciting to hear a large number of new songs that haven’t been heard before in concert but most a disappointment—best song on the album time sick son of a grizzly bear which of course has been heard by hips followers before. Best of the rest : confirmation of love, white hills, and white headphones. I like Mission in Vain as per above but the song just loses me in the middle and goes seems to go on forever–it could use a good ole hips space jam at the end I think

David May 11, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Do you know where I can get a mother hips concert poster or art work from a show?

oz May 11, 2007 at 9:54 pm

I bet you can just ask Tim Bluhm – hit him up on myspace. They are also touring now, so I’d check out their schedule and see if they’ll be in your town. I met Tim a couple months ago at our first live session and he’s a super nice guy.

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