The Mother Hips

Green Hills of Earth

Dunno why this Chico/Sacramento band gets written off as a tie-dyed jambo band, because the Mother Hips are the closest thing California’s produced to Memphis’ legendary Big Star, Sister Lovers period. Like Mr. Chilton’s combo, the Hips understand that the secret of reinventing Beatles-esque pop-rock is to come at it from oblique angles, rather than by frontal assault with power-pop clichés. The 14 songs here, most of them elegantly penned by Tim Bluhm, wed that sensibility with other choice influences from the ‘60s and ‘70s—the eccentric intimacy of pre-Dr. Landy Brian Wilson, the bucolic minimalism of Neil Young, the gauzy dissipation of Nick Drake, along with select nods to the Zombies, Kinks and, factor in the cheesy synth lines, the Moody Blues. They’re perfect settings for Bluhm’s lyrics, which evoke a quality of solipsism you don’t hear much about anymore. A candidate for year’s best?