Juliana has announced that she will be appearing with Wesley Stace over three nights on October, performing "mostly solo and acoustic." One is as support and the other two are multi artist "Cabinet of Wonders" variety shows which have previously seen Juliana perform maybe a couple of songs.
Also, there's three Blake Babies shows coming up in November, opening for Letters to Cleo at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Yay!
"Mostly Solo Acoustic" Performances
11 Hudson, NY - Club Helsinki (Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders - appearing with Charles Bock, Tracy Bonham, Dave Hill, Stephen Merritt, Suzzy Roche)
12 Ardmore, PA - The Ardmore Music Hall (opening for Wesley Stace)
13 New York City, NY - City Winery (Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders - appearing with Eric Andersen, Dave Hill, Stephen Merritt, Eugene Mirman, David Myles, Aparna Nancherla, Annalee Newitz)
Blake Babies Performances
16 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club (opening for Letters to Cleo)
17 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club (opening for Letters to Cleo)
18 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club (opening for Letters to Cleo)
The same trio recorded Pussycat just 7 months ago. Intriguing.
> “Touch You Again” and “When You’re a Star” have very distinctive riffs. Were they part of the song from the beginning?
Riffs usually come later. On “When You’re a Star,” we had the guitar and bass recorded. Then with that riff, it was like a light bulb going on over my head—I ran into the tracking room and recorded it. That happens a lot. The song will be recorded and I’ll hear a riff, melodically, in my head. I just have to transfer it from my brain onto the guitar.
> Do the vocal melodies come first?
Not always. Sometimes songs start with just chord progressions. But usually, once I have any kind of chord progression, the melody comes also. I often have melodies written ahead of the lyrics, which makes lyric writing more difficult because I have to fit them into these melodies.
I’ll get attached to sounds and then it takes a while for me to wrench my brain away from that and realize it’s okay to get unstuck. There were a couple of songs on the album where I was really stuck. “Everything Is Forgiven” moves around a lot. It was hard to fit words into that melody.
Sometimes I have a title and a melody, and I’m like “I’ve gotta get this goddam title in there!” “When You’re a Star” had to use those words: “When you’re a star, they let you.” It was like a puzzle. I figured out the only way to make it work was to change the order of the words around.
It's an excellent article split over 3 pages that covers many aspects of the Pussycat recording process from studio setup, guitar tuning, and song construction.
Also, given a little time has passed there's some retrospective thoughts on the lyrics and themes of the songs.
Laurie Burnette, reviewing Pussycat for Jazz London Radio:
Juliana was instrumental in that scene; being part of The Lemonheads and Blake Babies; releasing her debut “Hey Babe” in 1992 then forming the Juliana Hatfield Three in 1993 releasing “Become What You Are” on Atlantic Records. Since then Juliana has released an incredible array of music both electric and acoustic but always with melody and great riffs at the heart of it. “Pussycat” definitely follows the trend of not only well produced tuneful rock, but with hard hitting subjects which Juliana is so good at writing; Juliana is not afraid to tackle issues or put the boot in if she feels it’s necessary! I have read that Pussycat is an angry album, even her “angriest ever”. I see it as a mix of social commentary on the state of the American political scene and some angst, something that has been disappearing from music in recent times in the mad scramble to sound conformist and make as much money as possible.
There's a 45 minute audio interview with Juliana at the end of the review which concludes with Burnette asking about the prospect of future European shows. Unsurprisingly there are "no plans", Juliana citing the 2014 Minor Alps tour as particularly exhausting, but as always she says nothing should be ruled out.
Sunshine Boys are a Chicago-based trio of veteran recording and touring artists from some of the most revered bands in indie rock. Featuring Freda Love Smith (Blake Babies, Antenna, Mysteries of Life), Jacqueline Schimmel (Justin Roberts, Big Hello), and Dag Juhlin (Poi Dog Pondering, The Slugs), Sunshine Boys offer a propulsive, melodic take on pop rock.
Listen to their debut single above and download / contribute at bandcamp.
Juliana, interviewed by Christopher Mathieu for Nouvelle Vague:
NV - Il y a des artistes musicaux qui t’intéressent en-dehors du monde du rock ?
JH - Honnêtement, je ne suis pas très inspirée par beaucoup de musique récente parce que je n’en écoute pas beaucoup. Il y a bien du jazz et des vieux compositeurs pour piano que j’aime…
NV - Pas de musique électronique ou hip hop ?
JH - Il y a des artistes comme Kendrick Lamar que je trouve inspirant… en fait, j’écoute plein de choses diverses mais rien vraiment de bien précis.
It's a lengthy interview, where Juliana mentions that if she ever were to gain the rights to God's Foot she would intend to release it (yes!), future (hypothetical) collaborators on new music, and many other matters with questions covering her career.
It's in French but the linguistically challenged among us should be fine with a translator tool - the built in translator in Google Chrome does a grand job.
Juliana, writing about Jeff Buckley:
Jeff was gifted with a prodigious, supernatural, dazzling talent. He could do so much with his voice and his guitar and the way he wove them together was breathtaking. He was a fan of so much music, so many kinds of music, and he absorbed it all with a quasi-photographic musical memory, integrating all sorts of disparate elements effortlessly. It must have been overwhelming sometimes to have so many options, hard to narrow down what it was he wanted to present to the world. He wasn’t as limited as some of us are, but this this freedom, this ability, to do almost anything — it could have been crippling, in a way; if you have fewer options and fewer decisions it means your task is much simpler.
Read the whole article at Tidal.
A new show has been announced today - Juliana will be sharing the bill with Jesse Malin and Mathew Ryan at Bowery Ballroom, New York City on July 22, 2017.
Update A second "co-headline" show with Jesse Malin has been announced for July 21, 2017 at Crossroads, Garwood, NJ. Ticketfly link
The Pussycat tour came to an end on Monday. (At least for now - Juliana has mentioned further dates are possible this summer in other parts of the US and Canada.)
Thanks to all who have written and contributed across the JH fan community during these hectic few weeks. Pussycat would seem to be one of Juliana's best received albums in recent years.
Very special thanks once again to this site's contributor-in-chief Carlos Lopez for many of the links that have been posted.
If you've missed David Young's photos, they're now all collected in the USA 2017 section.
Here's a selection of live reviews, some with photos and the odd clip:
New Haven, Apr 22
Paul Bass, New Haven Independent:
She kept her patter brief (and warm and heartfelt) between numbers Saturday night, launching relentlessly into non-stop fury and bared pain tempered occasionally with introspective numbers like the new “Wonder Why,” in which she revisited childhood dreams. “I wonder why the aliens who landed on the roof left me there / and didn’t take me to the sky,” she sang. Even if you couldn’t make out the lyrics, you could tell how honest, these songs were just by the passion and openness with which Hatfield sang, attacked her guitar, interacted with her fans.
Alexis Coleman, Side Stage Magazine:
During the set Philips and Fisher provided a steady percussion session. Fischer sang back up on some of the songs. Hatfield and the band were very connected and they played off each other well. Since it was the first night of the tour fans got to witness some moments where the band had to change some things up and work some things out and it showed the authenticity and realness of who these musicians are. The band did not have a set list per say they were playing songs they loved and a variety of over the year tunes.
Philadelphia, Apr 24
Jeff Gemmill, The Old Grey Cat:
The Juliana Hatfield Three delivered a loud, sweaty and raucous show at the Boot & Saddle in South Philly last night. In fact, you could say it was a night of true grrrl rock (it is the Pussycat tour, after all). The 20-song set opened with a ferocious “Got No Idols” from Become What You Are. As evidenced by the video, Todd Phillips was a monster on drums, Dean Fisher equally brutal on bass and Juliana – well, Juliana was Juliana, full of grace, grit and growls on guitar and vocals.
Josh Pelta-Heller, WXPN:
The band covered a lot of ground for one evening, noting early in her set that they’d try to touch on several eras from her storied thirty-year career. Though she mixed in so many fan-favorites like “My Sister” and “Nirvana” from the early ‘90s, she was sure to put some distance between then and now too. Tribute paid, and pigeonhole avoided.
Chris Sikich's Flickr photo album:
Columbus, Apr 30
Curtis Schieber, The Columbus Dispatch:
On the evening’s best, it all came together, expertly driven by the terrific rhythm section of bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Philips. “Touch You Again” from the new album was the pay-off tune, an enticing melody, a psycho-sexual political statement, and a swinging delivery.
Here are some links for a bunch of Pussycat reviews. All have been positive, including the one I wrote here last week.
Steve Ricciutti, Soundblab:
Generating 14 songs and getting them recorded and mixed in less than two weeks (she plays all but the drums), Hatfield said she felt driven by forces beyond her control and described the process as “cathartic.” It has that same feel for the listener, too. I haven’t felt this much righteous indignation from a record since Zach de la Rocha screamed, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” a quarter century ago.
Jeff Gemmill, The Old Grey Cat:
I could go on and on (and on) with my thoughts about Pussycat, but instead I’ll say that I haven’t wavered from the sentiment I shared in my review of Juliana’s Philly concert: It’s excellent. Fans (new and old) who share her outlook on politics and life will thoroughly enjoy it, though some may be put off by the blunt imagery in some songs. It’s a claws-out affair that draws blood and trades, at times, in the profane (as this Paste Magazine review details). There’s an energy and drive to the performances that’s as palpable as the passion dripping from her vocals; and the lyrics, with a few exceptions, are soaked with anger, indignation and bitterness.
Evan Rytlewski, Pitchfork (6.8/10):
Pussycat lends to the case for a critical reappraisal. Now would be an ideal time for one, given how the DNA of Hatfield’s hooky, plainspoken alterna-pop has carried through some of indie-rock’s sharpest young songwriters, from Waxahatchee to Bully to Laura Stevenson and Charly Bliss—artists that have demonstrated there’s plenty of substance in this sound. What a treat it would be if, 30 years into their careers, they were all making records as relevant, passionate, and strangely personable as this one.
Jon Putnam, The Line Of Best Fit (9/10):
What makes Pussycat an unqualified success is how Hatfield has constructed it with multiple dimensions and, no matter the mood or approach a given song takes, she continually scores with material among the finest of her career. The ruminative “You’re Breaking My Heart” and “Sunny Somewhere” bleed sublimity, highlighted by Hatfield’s lean guitar work. Never outing Trump by name, “Short-Fingered Man” and “Rhinoceros” tissue-thin veils are shredded through by Hatfield’s crudest lyrical jabs and ballsiest riffs to date. The one direct salvo is launched at Stepford Wife-cum-senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, her namesake tune featuring Hatfield’s deliciously intimated desire to “be the first one to make [her] cry” and a downright danceable coda.
aLfie vera mella, Cryptic Rock (4/5):
If songs are the ultimate basis of an artist’s ability to balance youthfulness and maturity, then Pussycat finds Hatfield well in the middle of this equilibrium.
Brandi Smith, Riff Magazine:
Unlikely to be a favorite for Trump supporters, Pussycat is full of clever and biting lyrics that will give longtime Hatfield fans a reason to smirk.
Craig Dorfman, Paste (7.2/10):
Playing all instruments but drums, Hatfield completed Pussycat in under two weeks. That urgency comes through, to the album’s benefit. The immediacy of the melodies—simpler and scrappier than she’s written in years—paired with the snarl of the arrangements, gives Pussycat a rumbling, cathartic honesty ideal for the anger of our times.
Ashlyn Nicole, mxdwn:
The fast guitars and drums are not quite punk, but Hatfield’s political stance surely is. What initially is only conveyed through a couple of the song titles, such as “Kellyanne” and “Short-Fingered Man,” a closer look into the lyrics reveals that pretty much every song on Pussycat is political. Apparently Hatfield was pissed, and that fact is obvious throughout the entire album, even while masked with a soft, monotone and placid voice. The instrumentals complement the lyrics almost perfectly, while still walking on the tightrope of acceptable pop music. Hatfield’s album speaks out without being mundane, whilst hurling obscenities, which help to accentuate the mere point she tries to get across: politics are important and the current administration sucks.
Adrian Glover, Salute Magazine (8/10):
Aggressive in spirit, but catchy enough to entrap, Pussycat is uncomfortable reflection on where we are today.
These are indeed comfortable days that we wake up to. As such, expect plenty more records to come down the pipeline that showcase individual perspectives on why things feel the way that they do.
Hopefully, each and every one of them will be as raw and honest as Pussycat is.
Ben Gallivan, Stereoboard (4/5):
...the end product is one of Hatfield’s highlights as a solo artist. Heartless and Touch You Again are as energetic as any of the music produced by Blake Babies well over 25 years ago and there’s a renewed assurance in both her vocal style and delivery throughout. With a snap general election being announced in the UK, it’ll be interesting to see if any British artists follow this example and even more interesting to see if they can pull it off as well as Hatfield has done with ‘Pussycat’.
Kids Interview Bands:
Piper interviewed Juliana Hatfield at Ace of Cups in Columbus, Ohio on April 30, 2017.
Kids Interview Bands launched in the summer of 2012 with original hosts Olivia and Connie. In the summer of 2014, Olivia's youngest sister Piper took over the hosting duties. The girls have interviewed over 350 touring artists who have passed through Columbus, Ohio since launch.
A different set of questions to the normal here. Fabulous.
Juliana's acoustic session for Paste as originally broadcast live on April 27 from New York City is now available to view on demand.
Update - now also on YouTube as above.