The Mother Hips

One of the first lessons they teach you in film school is that you sometimes have to “kill your darlings”. It’s a term that means no matter how much you love a scene you shot; if it doesn’t fit in the film, it ends up on the cutting room floor. In 2009, The Mother Hips rescued a short stack of 2-inch analog tapes from a Los Angeles basement and started picking through hours of material, most of it recorded around the era that produced 1995’s Part Timer Goes Full and ‘96’s Shootout. They were thrilled with what they heard. In fact the band was so prolific during this period that literally dozens of top-notch songs were shelved and never saw the light of day as the group continued to spit out new material with machine gun rapidity. Now the band has compiled the cream of this lost crop into this eleven-song treasure trove titled Chronicle Man.

The Mother Hips, the center of which is the duo of Tim Bluhm (vocals/guitar) and Greg Loiacono (guitar/vocals), have spent over two decades writing, recording and performing songs, and die-hard fans who still talk about their “first Hips show,” have hung on every word and have enabled The Mother Hips to become a bona fide cottage industry. The band was even able to lay claim to a rock subgenre, “California Soul” (aptly arrived upon) so solidified that brands like Sierra Nevada Brewery crafted a beer “Hips Helles” based on the bands’ sound, not to mention, spearhead a longstanding music and arts festival, The Hipnic, (now in its sixth year) slated for May 9-11 in Big Sur.

But most of all, what comes through loud and clear is that The Hips have already left us with an incredible legacy of music, from their stunning 1993 debut Back To The Grotto to 2013’s Behind Beyond (their eighth studio album). 2011 saw a four (!) CD retrospective compilation of all previously unreleased material called Days of Sun and Grass-- a special treat to their fans for all their support over the years. And the fans aren’t alone in their admiration of the impressive catalog. The Mother Hips have garnered critical acclaim from the likes of The New Yorker, Mojo, Relix, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, among many other outlets, over the years.

The album kicks off with the dark ramble of “Desert Song,” for years a forgotten and oftwhispered about mythic ode to sojourners of the West. Next up is “El Pancho Villa,” a one-time live show favorite that takes the early Bee Gees and rides them hard over a fuzzy, shambolic groove. “St. Andrew,” with its' historical lesson and downer country vibes, is the Hip’s feel in a nutshell. From the jackhammer hard rock of the title track to the organ-laden blues raunch of “Headache To Headache,” Chronicle Man’s reintroduction of these unearthed gems will satisfy old fans and newcomers alike. Please step up and give it some of your time and attention.

The Pacific northwest region of the United States offers a vast array of landscapes which have inspired artists for years. Oregon’s Willamette Valley—with its lush trees, green hillsides, and often soggy weather—has been home to the band Norman since their beginning in 2004. The importance of physical setting to Norman’s music has long been commented on, and the emphasis on place and surrounds in their music has reached a new level with the release of 
Norman’s third album, Into the Eventyr (November 12, 2013/Hey Amigo Records).
On their latest album, Norman maintains their acclaimed aesthetic appreciation of the natural world, as in the rain-soaked tracks of their 2010 Hay, Hay, Make a Wish, as well as their dedication to place in songs like “Home” from their self-titled 2007 release. Yet the band’s uniquely-centered rock and folk sound has matured over time, allowing them to cement their place among other groups known for their emphasis on nature and place such as Harvest Moon-era Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, the Band, the Allman Bros., and fellow Portlanders Blitzen Trapper.

Into the Eventyr contains equal parts folk-pop sensibility, moody sonic exploration, and barn-burning guitar anthem. From beginning to end, it plays like a true LP should: well-rounded and honest. From the driving drums and synthesizer-led hook of its first track, “Hawk,” to the anti-mellow country-yearning ballad of “By My Side,” Into the Eventyr embodies multiple styles and landscapes. The album’s anthemic third track, “Younger,” is an up-tempo, harmony-infused pop gem that sets waves of chorusing vocals against a driving rhythm, giving the track an undeniably solid foundation. The album employs a wide range of textures and sounds, and was mostly recorded in a live setting. Into the Evenytr was recorded in the summer and fall of 2012 at Cloud City Sound in Portland, OR and was produced and engineered by Rob Dennler (Built to Spill, Sheryl Crow).

Like many bands, Norman has developed over the years into what it is today. But Norman’s insistence on collaboration in art is what has set them apart from their peers. All of their songs are a product of the combined effort of each musician, but the influence of external multimedia artists has allowed Norman to craft a sound and style that represents not just the northwest’s musical offerings, but a broader scope of what artists throughout the northwest are able to produce together. Their emphasis on collaboration extends beyond the group of musicians who play in Norman to include visual and textile artists, photographers, videographers, and—for the first time in its history—craft ale brewers. In conjunction with the master brewers at Calapooia Brewery in Albany, OR, Norman Ale will accompany the release of Into the Eventyr this fall. Each bottle of Norman Ale has on its label a QR code giving its purchaser permission to download the full album at no additional cost. Norman worked personally with the brewers who hand-crafted this ale and not only inspired its production, but actually took part in the brewing process. This unique opportunity came about through the mutual respect and recognition of these two northwest artists, and Norman is very excited and proud to take part in such an uncommon collaborative process.

Norman’s appeal blends well with timelessness of the northwest. can be seen in the way it represents growth and change, renewal and responsibility, innovation and adventure. “Eventyr” means “adventure,” and in Norman’s third full-length release, the sense of invitation runs deep, inviting listeners to experience the adventures available to them in nature, and enjoy creating, beginning, and exploring their own.



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