On Halloween 2015, Juliana announced a new project - a collaboration with The Replacements' Paul Westerberg under band name The I Don't Cares with an album called Wild Stab.
During the summer of 2015 Juliana began to drop hints that they were working together. A series of semi-cryptic Instagram posts led to up to the October announcement.
Juliana has often spoken of her love for The Replacements, most notably in her 2008 memoir. She was due to open for Westerberg for a series of shows many years back but injury forced Paul to cancel his tour.
There were two singles in the lead up to release - 1/2 2P and the Westerberg lead vocal King Of America. The Current also premiered Born For Me a couple of days before.
Unlike Juliana's 2013 collaboration with Matthew Caws or her shows with Evan Dando where vocal performances and songwriting duties were evenly split, The I Don't Cares is predominantly a Westerberg project.
These are Paul's songs written with Juliana in mind and others reworked with her input.
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.
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.
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)
In 2014, some 21 years after the release of her most (commercially) successful album, Juliana announced the reformation of the band from that era.
The Juliana Hatfield Three was a name she insisted on giving her band with Todd Philips and Dean Fisher in 1993, partly to credit their involvment in the project, partly to deflect some attention / responsibility from Juliana the public persona.
It was a short lived name, not least as it was a bit ridiculous. Two decades on though, fans embraced the return with nostalgia - a reminder of a time when many first heard Juliana's music. It remains many fans' favourite era of her career.
The announcement of a new (2nd) album from the band and a North American tour came with a PledgeMusic project, promising new songs, and reworked old ones. At launch Juliana said:
Todd, Dean, and I have just begun recording with the lovely and talented Tom Beaujour (who worked with me and Matthew [Caws] on the Minor Alps album) at the Nuthouse in Hoboken, New Jersey, and so far it is going great. Some of you may have previously heard some version of some of the songs we are working on. For example, one of the songs we are exploring is “If I Could”. We have always loved this song but there have only ever been demos of it; it has never been properly finished or produced. There are multiple attempted versions of it but the nut has never been quite cracked, and this has always sort of haunted me. Now I feel like I finally have the chance to get it right with Todd and Dean.
We are also exploring electricized band versions of a couple of the punchier acoustic home-recorded songs from my last album, “Wild Animals”. And there will be some other surprises.
Apart from just 2 songs the album's tracks had been heard in some form before:
Perhaps a little unexpectedly (given Juliana's run of solo self-released albums), the band signed to American Laundromat Records.
From the label's artist bio :
The twelve songs on "Whatever, My Love" are unsentimental, funny, and honest. Hatfield, humble as always, acknowledges that, "We haven’t totally reinvented the wheel or anything" with this new album and that the recordings exhibit "stuff I am sort of known for, I guess": a guitar-centric melodicism, and lyrical examinations of emotional confusion. "But I am a lot more confident now than I was then with the first album. And I had more fun recording this one."
Hatfield’s songs’ subjects still don’t know why people are the way they are. But the music is fresh and inspired, gorgeous and punk, sleazy and sweet; fully present and alive. With their new album, the Juliana Hatfield Three has in a sense responded to its former directive to "become what you are" by making an album that is exactly what it wants to be, identifiable in its acceptance--and celebration--of the unknowable and unsolvable.
February 10, 2015 - Download access for PledgeMusic subscribers.
February 24, 2015 - Stream at Spotify.
November, 2015 - Vinyl with bonus track, limited to pre-orders at American Laundromat Records.
A selection of interviews with Juliana from February 2015 around the time of the album release:
QRO Magazine - Juliana Hatfield - QYA
Consequence Of Sound - Juliana Hatfield - Now That We Have Found You
Glide Magazine - Juliana Hatfield Conjures Up New Trio Gems (Interview)
Performer Magazine - The Juliana Hatfield Three - The Performer Interview
Whatever, My Love, despite its plainspoken lyrics and shrugging title, doesn’t ignore the complicated in favor of these simple pleasures. In fact, in acknowledging the darkness on “Push Pin” or “If I Could” or “Wood”, the Juliana Hatfield Three argues that simple pleasures might be the hardest to come by and the hardest one. That is the central tension of the record, and one that keeps things taut even when “Invisible” runs through the chorus a few too many times or when songs like “Now That I Have Found You” bury the best elements—the jagged guitar phrasings—under other, sleeker production.
Matthew Fiander, PopMatters
By marrying her wry, world-weary songs to the brighter, optimistic punch of the JHT, Hatfield winds up with a record that delivers a hard, immediate hit -- particularly on the cynical pop "Ordinary Guy" and grind of "If Only We Were Dogs" -- but leaves a lasting scar that's soothed by the melodies and that ringing, hooky pop that is often labeled as collegiate but now feels deeper and richer in the hands of rockers who never deny their impending middle age. In other words, it's the best kind of reunion because it's not only lacking in nostalgia, it shows that some things can be better the second time around.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AllMusic
Throughout her career, Hatfield's strongest work's emerged when she's clicked with her collaborators. She made magic with the Blake Babies. And she made magic with Fisher and Philips. So, for longtime fans, Whatever, My Love gives reason for optimism. And, of the album, Hatfield's said: "We haven’t totally reinvented the wheel or anything." Which is what you want to hear. She goes back to her earlier timeless sound, one that emerged from punk, and skips the saccharine singer-songwriter stuff.
Brandon Stosuy, Pitchfork
It more than stands on its own as a wry, uncompromising, unapologetically jangly take on living with the general discomfort that comes along with being a modern human. And it’s reassuring to hear that, 20 years on, Juliana Hatfield still has just as much bite as the dogs she’s been singing about.
Pete Chianca, Wicked Local
The jangle-rock numbers like “I’m Shy”, “Push Pin”, and put-a-smile-on-your-face “If Only We Were Dogs” particularly have catch, but there’s also some sweet sadness in songs such as “Invisible”, “If I Could”, and “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands”. There are some relatively not as good tracks – “Now That I Have Found You” is too simply cheery, while the processional rhythm behind “Woods” doesn’t work that well (and the guy described in “Ordinary Guy” seems pretty rare & hard to match…) – but it’s what you wanted from a revived Juliana Hatfield Three.
Ted Chase, QRO
There are one or two missteps, the stuttering tempo of Wood doesn’t really work and the lyrics for Ordinary Guy, I’m Shy and the busy Push Pin are a little hard to listen to coming from a woman in her forties (“oh I want an ordinary guy”, “if only we were dogs it would so easy to be happy”). Much better are the more relaxed, sparser tracks. I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands has the light charm of late period Lemonheads, and moody closer Parking Lots succeeds by virtue of being a departure from the rest of the album, giving the keyboards prominence with a rather muted vocal from Hatfield.
Whatever, My Love has reminded me how much I enjoy Juliana Hatfield’s music. While her solo material and endeavors with other artists hold their own merit, there is something to be said about the chemistry between Hatfield, Phillips and Fisher. They have been able to step right back into the Juliana Hatfield Three as if they were never apart.
Chris Martin, Examiner
What could have been a tired rehash of past glories is actually quite the opposite. There are memorable moments and songs that last beyond their final note in your memory. When record this loops round on repeat, you are glad that it’s back again.
D R Pautsch, Soundblab
..it lives and dies by standard Hatfield calculus. The turn following the title phrase of the buoyant, churning “Now That I Have Found You” (“. . . I don’t know what I’m supposed to do”) is a welcome inversion of expectations. The album’s most aggressive song (“Push Pin”) nevertheless features a melodic shift toward the end that fills it with light. And “I’m Shy” is the classic Hatfield that listeners know and love and maybe loathe; a slice of low-self-esteem alt-pop with a catchy vocal hook and tough guitar riff, it’s ingratiatingly appealing, and also precisely what her detractors hated about her long ago.
Marc Hirsh, The Boston Globe
Juliana wasn't happy with a bit of it: