Viewing entries in
reviews

Weird - Review Round-up (3)

Comment

Weird - Review Round-up (3)

Another batch of Weird reviews from the past week. Thanks again to Carlos Lopez for sourcing many of these:

Russ Holsten, SLUG Magazine:

The truth of the matter is that Weird is a guitar record. Hatfield is the real deal. She can give you the hollow echo of Jerry Garcia, the pre-grunge sludge of Crazy Horse and the pop drive of Girlfriend-era Matthew Sweet. But make no mistake, Hatfield has her own unique guitar sound, and she lets that sound rip through this entire record. The best example of this is on the stunning track “Lost Ship.” She sings: “I wanna ride in a spaceship in my mind.” Just when you settle in to that pure sugar buzz a blistering guitar arrives halfway through the song—it’s lush, fuzzy and atmospheric with plenty of precision. It drives the Hatfield sound safely home.

Michelle Lindsey, Highway Queens:

Weird is the sound of an artist embracing herself and who she has become with pride and grace. It’s a refreshing and reassuring listen for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Weirdos of the world unite.

Frank Valish, Under The Radar, (8/10):

In all, listening to Weird brings to mind Hatfield's 1995's album Only Everything. Coming after her breakout album Become What You Are, with The Juliana Hatfield Three, Only Everything took the mold and stretched it. The melodic touch and lyrical examination remained but there was something new, something more eccentric, something, to steal her own album title's word, weird. The pleasures of Weird reward frequent listening. It is an album that begs repeating as soon as one reaches the last bouncing notes of "Do It to Music."

Lee Zimmerman, Paste, (7.3/10):

...Weird provides an apt analogy for those who feel out of touch with a world that’s so askew. To some degree, it should also provide assurance for all those who feel the same.

Closed Captioned:

The hooks are still there on songs like “Receiver” and on “Lost Ship,” but Hatfield seems determined to show us another side and it’s all wonderful in its representation. Whatever compelled Hatfield to return to releasing music on the regular, we welcome it if albums like Weird are the end result.

Comment

JHONJ Review Round-up 2

Comment

JHONJ Review Round-up 2

Another batch of reviews for Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John, with thanks again to Carlos Lopez for many of these links:

Jim Fusilli, The Wall Street Journal:

At its best moments, the album finds Ms. Hatfield paying respect, but not fealty, to Ms. Newton-John’s familiar versions. Its best cuts—including “Dancin’ ’Round and ’Round” and “A Little More Love,” both from “Totally Hot”—call to mind not the originator, but the bright side of Ms. Hatfield, thus liberating the recording from the glum responsibilities of a nostalgia exercise.

Maura Johnston, Rolling Stone:

Pop supernova Olivia Newton-John and alt-pop heroine Juliana Hatfield both possess winsome sopranos, and this delightful album filters Newton-John's biggest hits through Hatfield's slightly grungier sensibility. Hatfield's obvious affinity for the source material is evident throughout, with her coy take on the late-Seventies smash "A Little More Love" and her heartfelt version of the Grease showstopper "Hopelessly Devoted to You" being particular highlights.

Robert Peacock, The Wee Review:

This album’s niche, then, but not pure gimmick. You might need to love both women to truly love this album, but you wouldn’t be disappointed if you were a fan of either, or even a curious bystander. Respect to Hatfield for being so hopelessly devoted to Newton-John and full marks for the cover art which does a good job of capturing the vibe.

Grant Walters, Albumism (5/5):

If you’re a fan of Newton-John’s or Hatfield’s, there are plenty of reasons you’ll want to put this record on and bask in its thoughtfulness. If you’re not familiar with either but appreciate an intuitive, talented artist giving voice to a batch of compelling compositions, this album’s for you too.

Jeff Rogers, saukvalley.com:

That new take on old songs works best where you might least expect it. Hatfield’s version of “Physical” is fun, where the original was kind of annoying. A reworking of “Xanadu” dials down the gloss just enough to let the subtle, fuzzy guitar give the undeniable earworm of a song an interesting twist. Same with “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “A Little More Love.”

Hyperbolium, No Depression:

Hatfield has internalized these songs and their artist in a thousand bedroom and car singalongs, and filters them through the original artistry they helped inspire. The contentment of “Have You Never Been Mellow” retains its optimistic mid-70s introspection while being deepened by Hatfield’s additional decades of life experience, and “Hopelessly Devoted to You” could just as easily be Hatfield singing about Newton-John as it was Sandy singing about Danny. This is a treat for fans of both Newton-John and Hatfield, and the only thing missing are some Grease photo cards to stick inside your locker.

Ian Rushbury, Under The Radar:

There's a great mix of reverence and alt-rock on this record, which moves Sings Olivia Newton-John from an idea that was better in planning than in practice onto a different level. About two or three songs into the album, you'll forget that it's a "concept" album and just enjoy it for what it is—a really strong collection of songs that just happen to come from an unlikely source. Now all we have to do is wait for the Olivia Newton John Sings Juliana Hatfield album.

Comment

JHONJ Release Day Review Round-up

Comment

JHONJ Release Day Review Round-up

Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John is released today by American Laundromat Records. It's available on the major streaming / download sites, and on cd, cassette and vinyl direct form the label.

It seems that most of us who pre-ordered have had the album for the last week or two.

I agree with what seems to be a universal consensus - it's a wonderful idea, superbly executed. It is the perfect way to follow Pussycat.

With thanks as ever to Carlos Lopez for many of the links that appear on these pages, here are some of the reviews:

Gina, Fools Rush In:

Hatfield says in her liner notes that she has always found Newton-John’s work inspiring and positive, and that completely virtuous stance shines through in her interpretations of it: there’s nothing cynical or kitschy in her choice of artist. Unlike the usual goofy ‘70s covers many bands choose, there’s absolutely no irony here: instead, Hatfield successfully injects her vision into ours, so that, at the end of the record, rather than dismissing her, we learn to have that same kind of faith in her too.

Chris Martin, Atlanta Auditory Association:

If I had not known this was an album of ONJ songs I would swear the rocking “Totally Hot” and “Make a Move On Me” were Hatfield originals. If you ever listen to Hatfield’s music, then you know disco is far from her sound, so I was curious as to how she would handle the tunes “Magic” and “Xanadu”. Staying true to the originals she nails both giving them a hint of the disco vibe while grounding them with perfectly placed guitars.

Jeff Gemill, The Old Grey Cat:

Aside from a sped-up “Dancin’ ‘Round and ‘Round,” the arrangements hew close to the originals, though the pop and pop-country overtones are replaced with the punky pop-rock embellishments that have long accented Juliana’s work. Electric guitars are often at the fore – even on the opener, “I Honestly Love You,” which is raw and real.

The epiphany: These songs are as much a reflection of Juliana’s soul as her own compositions. It’s “This Lonely Love” brought into the open for all to see and share.

aLfie vera mella, Cryptic Rock (5/5):

The 1980s and the 1990s may be both heralded as prolific and proficient ages of music in terms of outputs and stylistic diversity. Taking this into consideration, Hatfield’s homage to Newton-John is a completion of a circle. It is, therefore, a doubly worthy contribution to the 2010s own streak of musical greatness that is surely to be hailed in the decades to come. CrypticRock gives Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John 5 out of 5 stars.

Glenn Gamboa, Newsday (4.5/5):

With “Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John” (American Laundromat), Hatfield not only showcases the sturdiness of Newton-John’s undeniable catalog, which spans country, pop and rock, but by amping up the edges serves as a reminder of the barriers the Aussie singer broke through in the ’70s.

Christopher Long, Ink 19:

For longtime Newton-John admirers, the 14-track collection will take ya on a friendly-feeling trip down memory lane. However, it’s the non Newton-John fans – the young folks who weren’t around back in the old days, as well as Hatfield’s fervent followers, who will reap the greatest joy from this set, as it stands tall on its own, simply as a solid, new rock release.

Comment

Wild Stab - Review Links

Comment

Wild Stab - Review Links

Here's some links to generally positive reviews for The I Don't Cares Wild Stab album.

Big thanks and credit to contributor-in-chief Carlos Lopez for sourcing these:

Often times, collaborations like this end up being a disappointment, but "Wild Stab" is filled with enough good music to make it worthwhile. Paul Westerberg sounds great. Not as great as he sounded in "14 Songs", but certainly better than he has sounded in recent years. And Juliana Hatfield's contributions are reminiscent of her work with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads. Their voices go well together. does, too; their ragged harmonies are sweet and living - reminding me a bit of Julie and Buddy Miller's - their voices belong together. 

Tommy Mac, The Virtual Sink

 
The album is lean and sexy with a one-take late-night vibe (described as "Donny & Marie with switchblades" in the liner notes) anchoring new rippers like “Wear Me Out Loud,” “ Dance To The Fight” and “Done Done Done.” The rustic cow-punk sound of the Los Angeles band X seems to be an influence here with the male and female voices melding to create one tough vocal.

Andy Derer, Empty Lighthouse Magazine

 
Wild Stab is a jangly, jaunty, lo-fi sprawl. Its 16 tracks sound slapped together with a healthy coat of Mod Podge, delivered straight from a basement studio. Some songs sound remarkably similar to each other, while others stick out at odd angles. It’s as if fussing over an album would’ve made it seem too much like a “statement”; instead, Wild Stab feels like a couple of pals rockin’ out, having fun, and not worrying too much about the final product. That’s not to say that these songs are anything less than professional — Hatfield and Westerberg are too good to drop any stinkers.

Adam Kivel, Consequence Of Sound

 
This album has a punk edge to it, but it is informed by a bit of rockabilly soul. This almost plays like Westerberg’s Grandpaboy records with Hatfield’s voice thrown into the mix. “King Of America” is steeped in classic heartland goodness, while “Whole Lotta Nothin’” has an insistent drive. “Dance To The Fight” is one of only songs where Hatfield really gets center-stage, but she works the tough groove well. In the end, this record has an appealing ramshackle sound and showcases both performers well, even if it feels much closer to a Westerberg release than one of Hatfield’s records.

Allan Raible, ABC News

 
Some songs are good; some songs are great; and there are only a few that probably should have been left as outtakes. There are hooks and riffs and clever turns of phrase; there are bold declarations, and much quieter ones. There is so much to like on the record, and it’s tremendously accessible and listenable.

Caryn Rose, Salon

 

For my money, I much preferred Juliana Hatfield’s 2013 collaboration with Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws. The album is called “Get There,” and they recorded under the moniker Minor Alps. It is one of those albums that flew under the radar, and it should be given consideration by any indie music lover.
In no way do I want to make it sound like I do not like the “Wild Stab” release by the I Don’t Cares. I think it is a fine album. However, given the background of the two players involved, I was hoping for something a little more magical. What I got was a fun album to listen to by two of my favorite icons.

Jeffrey Pederson, SC Times

 

Every song is solid, with a couple of standouts in “Outta My System” a Replacement-ish tune, and “Dance to the Fight” where Hatfield jumps into the fray in fine style on a number that could have been played in any fraternity house, at any time, back in the day.

The Falcon's Nest

 

Hatfield’s contributions are hard to pin down, but they aren’t slight. Her lead vocal turn on “Dance to the Fight” is a natural for her voice. And her backing and duet vocals throughout the record are actually a great pairing for Westerberg. So much of this record sounds like the type of guitar play that has been typical of recent Westerberg albums that it’s hard to know exactly where Hatfield fits in – she does that good a job of fitting into the overall sound of the album. I can only imagine that they’d be endlessly amusing and fun to see perform live.

Aquarium Drunkard

 

Opening tunes "Back" and "Wear Me Out Loud" are old Replacements outtakes that gracefully channel the Minneapolis singer's Don't Tell a Soul-era pop craftsmanship. Elsewhere, the duo tackle gentle alt-country ("½ 2 P," "Sorry for Tomorrow Night"), melodic power-pop ("Need the Guys," "King of America"), and indignant, rockabilly-tinged punk ("Love Out Loud," "Done Done Done"). Hatfield is front and center on several tunes, dueting with Westerberg on soft-spoken ballads ("Kissing Break," "Just a Phase") and taking the occasional lead. Most often, though, she sticks to the background, providing sweet harmony vocals and lead guitar throughout.

Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone

 

Wild Stab Track by Track Review - Rock and Roll Geek Show (Podcast)

Comment

Get There Reviews (2)

Comment

Get There Reviews (2)

Further reviews of the new Minor Alps album:

The Minor Alps have arrived, and Get There is a worthy story of their journey.

Justin Weller, mxdwn.com


And while the current hipster generation might be unfamiliar with these veteran alt-rockers, fans of contemporary indie pop and electro-folk (Bon Iver springs to mind) will definitely find enjoyment in songs like the gorgeously rustic Maxon, the poignant Waiting For You and thoughtful Buried Plans., 4/5

Kevin Mathews, Today


Hopefully this isn't a one-off, since Get There is as pleasurable as anything Hatfield or Nada Surf have offered listeners in recent years.

Mark Deming, AllMusic


Comment