Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Jung at heart
Juliana Hatfield finds herself on In Exile Deo

Since breaking with the Blake Babies in the early ’90s, singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield has had a fair share of ups and downs. She got off to a promising start with her first two solo albums, 1992’s Hey Babe (Mammoth) and 1993’s beefier Become What You Are (Mammoth/Atlantic), the latter recorded by the "Juliana Hatfield Three" with former Bullet LaVolta drummer Todd Philips and current Tanya Donelly bassist Dean Fisher, as she hit the alterna-rock airwaves with singles like "My Sister" and "Spin the Bottle." On her third solo disc, 1995’s Only Everything (Mammoth/Atlantic), she scored a modest radio/video hit with the power-pop number "Universal Heartbeat." (And though she switched from the bass she played in the Blake Babies to guitar for her solo material, her subtle yet crucial bass contributions on Lemonheads’ It’s a Shame About Ray have more than a little to do with that 1992 album’s being one of Evan Dando’s best works.) By almost any measure, Hatfield was well on her way to settling in as a career major-label artist.

At the same time, like a lot of undergrounders who’d cashed in on the rise of the alternative nation, Hatfield was subject to backlash from fans who felt betrayed by the commercial leanings of her solo work. Name-checking ’80s bands like the Violent Femmes and Del Fuegos in the grunge-lite teeny-popper "My Sister" didn’t help. Worse still, she tended to say the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong interviews — a habit that got her immortalized in Dave Marsh & James Bernard’s 1994 The New Book of Rock Lists. "I Am Woman, Hear Me Bleat: Juliana Hatfield, the World’s Least Liberated Female Rocker, Explains the Facts of Life" included such nuggets of wisdom as "I have these weird latent misogynist tendencies. . . . Women should be as strong as they can be, because they’re naturally weaker."

But the real shock to Hatfield’s system came when Atlantic refused to release God’s Foot, the follow-up to Become What You Are, because it wasn’t deemed commercial enough. In what seems to have been the first in a number of crucial turning points in her career, she refused to accede to Atlantic’s demands. God’s Foot still hasn’t seen the light of day, and Hatfield, who performs as part of the Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll party on June 3, has yet to re-sign to a major label. What she did instead was embark on what’s become a decade of rediscovering herself, reconnecting with her muse (as well as some of her earlier bandmates), branching out, and generally getting back in touch with what drew her to rock and roll in the first place. She moved around a bit, settling in Los Angeles and then New York City for a time before returning home to live in Cambridge. And she started recording and releasing the kind of albums she wanted to make, first through a licensing deal with the then new Rounder Zoë imprint, and then as part of the growing Zoë roster.

Bed (1998), with its squealing feedback intro, its adult themes, and the slinky, sexy groove of songs like "Sneaking Around," reintroduced Hatfield as a an artist worth taking seriously. And the simultaneous release of the more polished solo album Beautiful Creature (perhaps a coy recantation of the sentiments of Hey Babe’s "Ugly") and the grungy, punkish band album Total System Failure (credited to Juliana’s Pony) made it clear that her palette had broadened and that she wasn’t going to be pigeonholed again. Following that up in 2001 with an impressive Blake Babies reunion album (God Bless the Blake Babies) and tour was a timely reminder that Hatfield had paid her dues as part of the indie underground that laid the foundation for the alternative-rock explosion of the ’90s. And reuniting with Blake Babies drummer Freda Love last year for Feel It (Koch), an album credited to Some Girls, seemed to clear up any lingering doubts about her integrity as an artist. Which is not to suggest that any of this was part of a grand scheme on Hatfield’s part, or that she came out of her experiences on Atlantic looking to upgrade her image. All the same, with the release of her new CD, the thoughtful yet relatively straightforward pop album In Exile Deo (Zoë/Rounder), she’s positioned herself as a mature singer-songwriter/bandleader committed to navigating her own artistic path — a career artist who, like Aimee Mann, would like to avoid the pitfalls of her past.

page 1  page 2 

Issue Date: May 21 - 27, 2004
Back to the Music table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group