The Mother Hips
Kiss the Crystal Flake
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5
Written by John Metzger
Sat May 26, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
After the release of Green Hills of Earth in 2001, The Mother Hips went through an extended period of transition and rebirth, the result of which is its latest concoction Kiss the Crystal Flake. Much as its title suggests, the band has continued to shed its Americana-imbued, hippie-rock ways in favor of more contemporary, power-pop arrangements. Nevertheless, it still feels as if the outfit is rifling through its record collection in search of inspiration. The influences of both The Byrds and The Band have been left by the wayside, while the sway that The Beatles and The Beach Boys once held over the collective has been turned into mere window dressing. At the same time, The Mother Hipsí infatuation with Buffalo Springfield has been recast as the driving chug of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and the entirety of Kiss the Crystal Flake sounds less like one of the Grateful Deadís endeavors than it does a glimpse of Phish in the midst of pouring through its wardrobe of musical costumes in preparation for a Halloween extravaganza.
At its most adventurous, The Mother Hips smashes its progenitors together in strange and intriguing ways. On Mission in Vain, for example, the band builds a bridge that crosses The Beatles with Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Turtles with Pink Floyd ó and surprisingly, it doesnít sound nearly as dated as one might expect. Elsewhere, the group conjures images of Dinosaur Jr. backing the B-52s (White Hills) and dada supporting Hall & Oates (Let Somebody), though the problem with these amalgamations is that they never quite work. None of them leave a lasting impression, and they feel like forced mash-ups that were made in an attempt to find a younger audience in the alternative and indie scenes.
Nevertheless, Kiss the Crystal Flake isnít a total loss, though its successes arenít nearly as innovative. Instead, The Mother Hips discovers its heart and soul whenever it plays its classic rock roots reasonably straight. On White Headphones, the band takes a stab at invoking the swagger of Lou Reed; on No-Name Darrell, it twists The Beatles into Meddle-era Pink Floyd, while enveloping the outcome in an alt-rock sheen; and with the stomping groove of Confirmation of Love, it takes a skewed look at the tale of divorce that Tom Petty told on Mary Janeís Last Dance.
Over the course of its career, The Mother Hips has managed to cultivate a small but loyal following, and Kiss the Crystal Flake clearly is its bid for attracting a bigger crowd to its scene. Unfortunately, although the endeavor is passively entertaining, there also is nothing on it that is compelling enough to make the bandís music stick. As it stands, the set is nothing more than mere fodder for The Mother Hipsí concerts, where hopefully it will bring more energy and intensity to its songs.
Of Further Interest...
Kiss the Crystal Flake is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box