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Great songs, playing

Kiss the Crystal Flake
Kiss the Crystal Flake
By The Mother Hips

Camera Records: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in April 2007.

Folk, country-rock and power pop with rich vocal harmonies and sticky-sweet melodic hooks, the new album from The Mother Hips is being labeled "retro" in the music press. And a decade ago, the same charge was hurled against the Jayhawks – as if making lovely music was somehow intrinsically tied to the past and a sin against all that is hip and cool.

The Mother Hips play hippie music on their new disc when you get right down to it. It's an organic mixture of popular and folk styles, built around strong, simple melodic themes led by the singing Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono, who also write all the band's songs.

It's hard to see how the music here can be dismissed as retro. Clearly influenced and informed by the whole alternative movement and other post-'70s veins, the only commonalities the Mother Hips have with '70s folk-rock are the emphasis on harmony vocals and instrumental virtuosity – which hardly ought to be the province of a single era.

Good songs, solid playing – if you like accessible, guitar-based rock with sunny melodies and great vocal harmonies, it probably doesn't matter how old you are: You'll like the Mother Hips' new album.