The Mother Hips - The Green Hills of Earth
Future Farmer Recordings
The Mother Hips have tried for years to shake the hippie "jam band" image.
That is understandable, as jam bands suck. Luckily for the Hips, they seem to
have reached a respectable level of pop-rockdom in their new record "The Green
Hills of Earth." It's a transition that was very deliberate and thought out;
the new album was 2 years in the making. With its release, the new sound has
taken a lot of fans & critics by surprise. It has been called a "rebirth" by
many, a statement I can neither support nor argue because I had never heard
them before - wisely steering clear of boring hippie slop in favor of rock.
The mere fact that I could tolerate listening to this entire album should be
proof enough of the bands progression - in fact, if I hadn't known better, I
would have never suspected a strong grassroots influence. Picture if you will,
The Byrds, The Kinks, The Flaming Lips, Teenage Fanclub and The Beatles
collectively making a really good record and scrapping the b-sibes. This is a
record of those discarded b-sides. Largely an accoustic collection, the overall
feel of the record is mellow: airy ballads with interspersed moments of
California rock and Beach Boy harmonies. From soft piano/acoustic guitar duets
to the heavy riffing Lenny Kravitz-esque rock on "Rich Little Girl," the band
leaves a large gap, which is filled mostly by the Mother Hips' brand of country
flavored rock 'n' roll. An easy parallel can be drawn to Wilco - whom they
specifically name in one track.
Their connection to the west coast is very strong; as graduates of Chico
State, the band has been on the roads of California building a substantial
fan base - and with their signing to SoCal indie label Future Farmer, they
have managed to get themselves a little cred, apparently without pissing off
If I had only heard the first few songs on this album, I would probably go so
far as to burn a copy of it. However, for me, the album seems to dwindle off
quite a bit after 5 or 6 tracks. You know how it is when you forget you have
a CD in. When that happens I almost feel like I've been cheating my ears. If
that happens to you, quickly search out your favorite Knapsack record and
blast it untill your ears forgive you. That's what I'm about to do.
Overall, I would give this album a B/B+ and recommend it to anyone who likes
to surf and live out of their car.
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