Sound: For 15 years in the industry The Mother Hips (singer/guitarist Greg Loiacono, vocalist/guitarist Tim Bluhm, bassist Paul Hoaglin, drummer Mike Wofchuck) have experienced everything possible -? drugs, switching labels, being on stage with stars like Johnny Cash, but they still didn't make it to being big. After 2001's slump "Green Hills Of The Earth," singer/guitarist Greg Loiacono left the band and other members started looking for luck in different directions. It took them four years to get back to music, but now with a different approach -? being "musicians of leisure," as they call themselves, The Hips are taking music as hobby.
The Mother Hips started their comeback with a modest EP "Red Tangy." Two new songs -- "Colonized" and "Blue Tomorrow," and two versions of "Red Tangy" -? so-called warm-up before the band's new full-length LP, due to be out in 2006. All of the songs on the EP sound like they belong to retro, but at the same time it doesn't look like something you found among your parents' old stuff. It's The Beatles at first glance, but if you listen closer, you'll find a whole lot of different style richly blended all together -- brit-pop, fuzz rock, folk, power-pop, country. Early David Bowie, The Beatles, young Bee Gees, The Beastie Boys -? you're gonna hear all of them in three songs on "Red Tandy." Having added some driving guitars that would also fit Oasis records very good and rock drum beats, the band adapted vintage sound to nowdays. The addition of tambourine here and there sounds touchy.
Anthem-alike "Colonized" has a classic rock feeling to it -? guitar-driven with a harder sound. "Blue Tomorrow" is more psychedelic track in mid tempo pace with moody guitar riffs, based on leading bass line. The first version of "Red Tandy" song has not a very impressive ending, but the second one has even two -? for the both of them. First -? when the band starts jamming at the end of the song and it finishes by getting more and more quiet, and second -? after a few-seconds pause it all gets back from "quiet" to "very loud" and all instruments are just slamming hard. I should say I like the last version more. All three songs produce organic "wrapped into a mood" sound and are hooky, though hardly differentiable after you listen to the whole CD. // 8
Lyrics: Bluhm's tenor vocal abilities are not great, but quite enough for the music of The Mother Hips. The vocal harmonies are wonderful ?- each song reminds what a real vocal part could sound like -? not just some melody line with a strain in voice, but a whole harmony, supported by a different line of back vocals.
As well as lyrics, back vocals have definitely been borrowed from the '60s -? simple and primitive, carelessly recorded most of the time. That's something that can be said about the record in general -? seems like it was either recorded in short time terms or that feeling of a jam record is done on purpose. The sound is unpolished and thus the EP sounds unfinished. // 7
Overall Impression: There are different kinds of musicians -? some can play with whoever sounds ok, others find their bandmates for a livetime and their musicianship is based on personal relationship. The second case describes The Mother Hips perfectly -? being fed up with each other is one of the reasons of the band's break up in 2001. Now that a long break helped them to improve the relationship, the band is full of energy and Bluhm and Loiacono feel that special connection between them again. You can hear it by the enthusiasm "Red Tandy" was recorded with.
It's always nice to listen to somebody who's not trying to make as much money as possible by their music. Usually it's something different without a pretension for platinum records and commercialism.
"California's favorite sons," as their PR agency are claiming them, haven't got ambitions of making a revolution in music, but just channel the best traditions of '60s classics. Being totally obsessed by the "flower power" era, The Mother Hips even released the new record on 7" vinyl, as well as on CD.
The EP is tasty enough to tease you and make you wait for the upcoming album. // 8