Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
One of our favorite vacation spots is up in the Wild Mountain Nation that our dear friends in the Pacific Northwest band Blitzen Trapper have created and dubbed their own. It's a place where not only do the men all have full-back tattoos of eagles and hawks showing off their wingspans and their looking-through-you-to-your-deepest-soul stares, but the hawks and the eagles have just as impressive tattoos of the furry-faced and chesty mountain men who worship them. It's a land that's dominated by murder ballads, the Smith & Wessons that are relied on for getting anything accomplished for meals, revenge, power and intimidation, a freewheeling sense of the open road and a rattling belief that love's always going to cause a weary consternation and difficulty. Once all of those aspects are out in the open, it makes for a non-ruled and transfigured territory where ideologies are spectral and roaming. It's the same kind of irreverent and tossed into the skies sort of admiration for all things unplanned, untraceable and hard to follow that the Mother Hips have been having their way with for years and years, since the San Francisco band started making music way back in 1990. It could even be hypothesized that Hips lean and lanky lead singer Timothy Bluhm and the songs he's written over the years are known by those Trappers, perhaps intimately. A wild mountain nation could have been shaped by a white falcon's fuzz and vice versa, both images of a time period that's shifted or fallen through some jagged cracks and now occupy a dimension that's slightly cockeyed and reeks of the pungent smell of fermented corn mash. It's a place that's heard in all of the songs that lie on the Mother Hips' latest album of new material, "Pacific Dust," an album that takes us to this spot that looks like the faded colors of a Polaroid photograph, even when the colors are a present-day representation - a new document of what we're supposed to be seeing. It's interesting when music can make you forgot where you are in time. And that's not to mean that you're set adrift on memory's bliss or dragged into some sort of neo-nostalgia that's not really being spoken by your own insides. It's to mean that there's an actual disconnect between now and a not so distant past - one that maybe happened and was happening 50 or 60 years ago, when our grandparents had beautiful figures and the Great Depression was still something that came up a lot in conversation as a "remember when" subject. The Mother Hips remind us of a time when something like the Pacific Ocean was new to each of us - not new to the earth - but just to our own actual eyes as we set them upon the coastline there against the salty piers of San Francisco from a distance and with an awe choking our throats. They remind us, with their jammy-like feel and cool compress of a way with autobiographical and anecdotal story lines, that love of love and love of life come in lots of different forms and that standing there, a bit away from the water and looking down at the Pacific ignoring our own presence and just pushing, shoving and loitering in its sparkly way as it always would, is a good way to observe. Somehow all of this is in the music that Bluhm and the Hips make, giving us the warning that getting up at six in the morning to head off to work a job might not be something that they'd be interested in because as Bluhm sings, "I don't take my rest 'til then sometimes," and one gets the impression that he might cap his nights off with a walk near that ocean, to hear it sigh and cavort before things get too crazy again. Then it's off to bed to rest a worn out head and prepare for appreciating colors, mustaches, quality booze and silent harmonies of other times all over again.
The Mother Hips Official Site