Excerpt of Pacific Dust review by Shug at Sugartown
The Mother Hips – Pacific Dust
Camera Records, 2009
It is a common notion that there is an unavoidable trade-off between youth and experience in rock bands: the newly emerged have the unbridled energy and drive without the experience to keep things solid while the ones who have been around awhile might not burn as hot as they once did, but have the well-honed skill in their craft to make up for it. One could make a claim for this to be true with the Mother Hips in 2009, nearing 20 years together as a band and having just released their seventh studio album, Pacific Dust. There is something to be credited to survivors in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, at least to the ones who have done it with their artistic integrity intact. Who knows if the apparent wisdom comes from having survived or if the survival is a result of inherent wisdom? But few could argue with the experience of hearing such a band playing live in a room. Not many fans of good rock music seeing the Mother Hips for the first time can deny their quality. And if it’s true that they are now not as reckless and hell- bent as they once were, there is certainly an assuredly skilled and confident air to the way they perform, more than there was when they were starting out.
Pacific Dust is sonically a near-perfect presentation of the sound of The Mother Hips, and by that I mean the sound that happens when these four men are in the same room singing and playing together with no overdubs or studio trickery. Pacific Dust sounds as if the listener is in the sweet spot of an acoustically perfect venue while the band plays deep in a groove without technical worries or other distractions, utterly owning their songs.Singer/songwriter/guitarist Tim Bluhm recently attributed this quality ofPacific Dust partly to The Hips’ ability, developed over years, to easily get the sounds they want out of their instruments and voices, but also to their familiarity with both San Francisco’s Mission Bells studio (of which Bluhm is co-owner) and their producer David Simon Baker (another co-owner of Mission Bells) which enabled them to capture the sounds far quicker than is typical and thus the band were still fresh and excited for each performance.As a result, Pacific Dust sounds not only assured, confident and effortless, but also very alive and intimate, like at a great rock show, as well as rich and lush like a great pop record. This is the true sound of The Mother Hips!