Behind Beyond

On Behind Beyond, The Mother Hips impressively carries on its legacy of “California soul” with a balanced mix of dynamic and self-reflective country, rock and blues. As the band has been since releasing its first album—Back to the Grotto—21 years ago during its early days as a Chico garage band, The Mother Hips are led by Tim Bluhm (who penned seven of the songs here) and Greg Loiacono (who wrote the other three). And there’s not a weak track between the two singer/guitarist/songwriters. The epic opener, Bluhm’s “The Isle Not of Man” is a dreamy, tempo-shifting piece filled with dramatic breaks, powerful and precise anthem-like guitar licks, and a good dose of psychedelic jamming. In Loiacono’s breezy, twangy, and jam-fortified “Freed from a Prison”—a figurative reference perhaps to the band’s early days of excessive partying—he concludes that “the music is the one thing I can’t live without.” Striking a political tone, “Jefferson Army” gives unabashed support to the proposed State of Jefferson (to be composed of rural NorCal/Southern Oregon), while “Song for JB”—originally a Bluhm solo ode to the passing of former Wilco member Jay Bennett—is a particularly touching epilogue.