cool hand bak

Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Get Hip Or Die!

It's not unusual for bands to attempt to recapture the spirit of rock in the 60s, but it is rare that a young band aims to genuinely recreate the authentic sounds of that iconic era. Hip Whips are an example of the latter: a band that comes dangerously close to sounding like a lost relic of the 60s, from their particular aesthetic and recording values all the way to their classic, organ-built foundation. Their ability to support a sound so indebted to what was going on 40 years ago, without residing entirely within the sickly realm of derivation, is due in large part to their incredibly gifted vocalist Markus Lindmark. In Lindmark, Hip Whips have a lead guy who is able to mix and mutate two of the very best vocalists of yesteryear with what seems like real ease: call him Mick Morrison or Van Jagger.

Hip Whips are, apparently, legendary in their homeland (Sweden, of course!) for chaotic live shows and for fighting with audiences and amongst themselves. They only have one album to their name, 2003's self-titled debut, which at less than half an hour's worth of music really ought to be considered an EP. Here are a couple songs from Hip Whips:

Hip Whips - "Stay With Me Forever"

This is the best thing Hip Whips have yet done: a fully realized, impassioned vocal from Lindmark combined with a fantastic organ performance that weaves and waves throughout the entire length of the song. The one area where Hip Whips regularly falter is songwriting, and this song is an example of that too. The melody is great, but an awful lot is asked of it; Lindmark is reduced to singing the same three or four lines of lyrics, teetering on the brink of annoying redundancy. Like a helicopter approaching a mountain in a Hollywood blockbuster, I happen to think that Hip Whips pull-up just in time, but I could see plenty of people getting the exact opposite impression. Redundancy, then, might be the operative word; one's ability to enjoy Hip Whips will probably coincide to a great extent with their ability to tolerate Hip Whips' retro flourishes. Personally, I love it: when something sounds this good, I try not to ask too many questions.

Hip Whips - "Pick Up Your Pain"

I guess this is where Hip Whips get spiritual, or philosophical, or disguisedly uplifting. Lindmark might not sound encouraging in the face of despair, but listen to what he's saying. Here the lyrical repetition and Lindmark's restrained vocal (for most of the song anyway) serve the song well, turning it into a soothing meditation of sorts.

Who knows what Hip Whips have been up to since the release of Hip Whips? The only website they seem to have is this Brass Button one, which isn't very informative. You can pick up Hip Whips from my favorite online store, Parasol, for cheap, and if you like that you can join me in hoping that the band gets it together for another album in the not-too-distant future.

UPDATE: Our prayers have been answered! Fine, my prayers. After spending a little more time at the Brass Button site, I noticed this tidbit of information scrolling near the bottom of the start page: "Hip Whips is in the studio finishing there new album. The firs single "Time Is On Its Way" will be released in the beginning of 2005 and the album is due to be released in March." The typos ain't mine, they're part of the quote.

Click Here