Mother Hips

Kiss the Crystal Flake

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The Mother Hips broke a long silence with the excellent Red Tandy EP in 2006 and they maintain the excellence on 2007's Kiss the Crystal Flake. Always a band you could count on for fairly straightforward AOR-influenced rock & roll mixed with some heart-on-sleeve balladry, the Hips deliver exactly what you would expect: a solid batch of rockers and ballads recorded cleanly and crisply and performed with an energetic, light touch by the group. The songwriting chores and vocal duties are split pretty evenly between Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono, with the former providing the sweet vocals and poppy tunes, the latter grittier vocals and less structured yet still melodic songs. Their songs blend together almost as well as their soaring vocal harmonies, which give a breathtaking lift to just about every song on the album. The duo tackles just about every style of music you might've heard on an FM rock station in the '70s: hard-charging Petty-esque guitar rock ("White Hills," "No-Name Darrell"), Hall & Oates-styled blue-eyed soul balladry ("Let Somebody"), laid-back boogie rock ("Confirmation of Love," "White Headphones"), Neil Young-derived ballads (the achingly beautiful "Not So Independent"), and semi-soft rock ("TGIM," "In This Bliss"). Even a few you wouldn't have (the disco vocals Bluhm delivers on "TGIM"'s chorus, the spiky indie rock guitars of "Time Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear"). Despite their obvious debt to the past, any charges of the Mother Hips being simple revivalist are cast aside by their superb songwriting and the emotion on display. Even if they were just rip-off artists, the beauty of their vocal harmonies would make this record damn near essential for fans of good, sweet, and easy guitar rock -- from the '70s or any time at all.

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