After Juliana Hatfield disbanded the jangle pop trio the Blake Babies in 1990, she launched a solo career, performing similarly melodic indie guitar pop. Singing in an endearingly thin voice, Hatfield married her ringing hooks to sweet, lovelorn pop and startlingly honest confessional songs. Her 1992 solo debut, Hey Babe, became a college radio hit, and its follow-up, 1994's Become What You Are, was primed to become a crossover success in the wake of the commercialization of alternative rock. Although Hatfield had a handful of modern rock hits, including "Spin the Bottle," she never managed to gain the mainstream audience of peers like the Lemonheads did, and by the late '90s, she had settled into a cult following.
Hatfield was raised in an upper-middle-class home in Massachusetts; her father was a doctor and her mother was a fashion editor for The Boston Globe. As a child, she learned how to play piano, and during high school, she played guitar in a covers group called the Squids before discovering alternative rock through the Velvet Underground. Following high school, she attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied voice. While at Berklee, she met guitarist John Strohm and drummer Freda Boner, with whom she formed the Blake Babies in 1986. Over the next six years, the Blake Babies and their charming jangle pop became college radio favorites. Hatfield left the band in 1990, and Strohm and Boner formed Antenna.
Immediately following her departure from the Blake Babies, Hatfield contributed several lyrics to Susanna Hoffs' debut album. The following year, she played bass on the Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray, which turned out to be the band's commercial breakthrough. The success of It's a Shame About Ray in 1992 stirred interest in Hatfield's solo debut, Hey Babe. Released on Mammoth Records, the album was very similar to the Blake Babies, yet the songs were more personal and confessional. Hey Babe was critically praised and became a college radio and MTV hit, leading to a major-label contract for Hatfield with Atlantic.
In 1992, Hatfield formed the Juliana Hatfield Three with bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Phillips, and the group recorded its debut for Atlantic with R.E.M.'s producer, Scott Litt. As she worked on the record, Hatfield became a minor media sensation; her songs were accepted as friendly, more accessible distillations of the feminist alternative rock movement known as riot grrrl. Hatfield appeared in fashion layouts in Vogue and Sassy, and she became the subject of gossipy tidbits about her speculated romance with Lemonhead Evan Dando and her assertion that she was still a virgin at the age of 25. In light of such exposure, many observers expected her 1993 album Become What You Are to be her mainstream breakthrough. A heavier record than its predecessor, Become What You Are was a moderate hit, as "My Sister" and "Spin the Bottle" earned heavy airplay on MTV and modern rock radio. Nevertheless, the album failed to make her a star.
Only Everything followed in the spring of 1995 as alternative rock was beginning to decline in popularity. The album was received with mixed reviews, and only "Universal Heartbeat" managed to make much headway on radio or MTV, causing the album to slip down the charts quickly. Hatfield returned in 1997 with the EP Please Do Not Disturb, followed a year later by the full-length Bed. Spring 2000 was a busy time for Hatfield; she released the quiet, reflective solo album Beautiful Creature and Total System Failure, a collection of louder, poppier material, on the same day. Total System Failure featured Hatfield, former Weezer bassist Mike Welsh, and drummer Zephan Courtney as a new band, Juliana's Pony, which was a trio along the lines of the Juliana Hatfield Three.
Hatfield's next project was a return to one of her first: she reunited with Freda Love and John Strohm in 2000, launching a Blake Babies tour and recording an album entitled God Bless the Blake Babies. The reunion was short-lived, but Hatfield and Love continued to work together in a group called Some Girls, which also featured Heidi Gluck (the Pieces). Some Girls put out the Feel It LP in 2002 and also did a moderate amount of touring. After that, it was back to the solo game for Hatfield. 2004's In Exile Deo was a bit of a surprise, however, since after all her restlessness it was easily one of her strongest, most mature albums to date. That mature streak continued with 2005's Made in China, a raw and direct effort that she produced herself and put out through her own Ye Olde imprint, as well as the Sittin' in a Tree... EP, which was recorded alongside the Boston-based alt-country band Frank Smith. A collection of live recordings called The White Broken Line: Live Recordings followed, and 2008 saw the release of two Hatfield products: first, a solo album entitled How I Walk Away, and second, an autobiography detailing her highs and lows throughout multiple decades of music-making. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.
Juliana Hatfield (born July 27, 1967 in Wiscasset, Maine, United States), is an American guitarist/singer-songwriter from the Boston area, formerly of the indie rock band Blake Babies.
The daughter of Philip M. Hatfield (a radiologist) and The Boston Globe fashion critic Julie Hatfield, Juliana was born in Maine and grew up in the Boston suburb of Duxbury. She acquired a love of rock music during the 1970s, having been introduced by a babysitter to the music of the seminal Los Angeles punk rock band X, which proved a life-changing experience. She was also attracted to the music of more mainstream artists like Olivia Newton-John and The Police, perhaps explaining the dialectic in her later music between sweet, melodic "pop" songs and more hard rock oriented material. Visualizing herself as a singer since her high school years, Hatfield sang in school choirs and briefly played in a cover band called The Squids, which played Queen and Rush songs.
Hatfield began her solo career following the Blake Babies' breakup in 1991, releasing her first solo album Hey Babe in 1992. The album was one of the highest selling independent albums of 1992. Hatfield recruited a rhythm section comprised of former Moving Targets and Bullet LaVolta drummer Todd Phillips, and Thudpucker bassist Dean Fisher, and thus becoming The Juliana Hatfield Three.
Hatfield achieved alterna-rock stardom with the release of 1993's Become What You Are (recorded under the group name The Juliana Hatfield Three). Several songs from the album received regular airplay on major North American rock stations, with Hatfield's song "My Sister" becoming the biggest hit of her career with the video becoming an MTV staple. Another one of her songs ("Spin the Bottle") was used in the soundtrack of the Hollywood film Reality Bites (1994). Hatfield also made the cover of Spin magazine. Hatfield's popularity coincided with the success, in the mid-1990s, of many other female musicians (such as Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, Belly, Letters to Cleo, Velocity Girl, The Breeders, Hole, Veruca Salt, Poe, Throwing Muses, Magnapop, Bettie Serveert). Although she has always maintained that her gender is of only incidental importance to her music, Hatfield was pleased to have been invited, in 1997, to tour with the first Lilith Fair, a prominent all-female rock festival founded by singer Sarah McLachlan. Hatfield was profiled in a number of girls' magazines at this time and was embraced by many pre-teen and teenage girls as a role model due to the positive way she addressed serious issues faced by young women in her songs and interviews. About this period she says: "I was never comfortable with the attention. I thought it had come too soon. I hadn’t earned it yet." She gained notoriety in 1992 for saying that she was still a virgin in her mid-twenties in Interview magazine. In a 1994 interview for the magazine Vox she said she was surprised by the effect 'outing' herself had: "I think there are a lot of people out there who don't care about sex, but who you never hear from, so I thought I should say it. The magazine I did the interview for is full of beef-cake hunky guys and scantily-clad models, so I thought it would be really funny to say that I didn't care about sex in a magazine that's full of sex and beauty - but no one really got the joke."
In 1995, following the success of Become What You Are she released her followup album, Only Everything, in which she "turned up the volume and the distortion and had a lot of fun". One reviewer describes it as "a fun, engaging pop album". The album spawned another alternative radio hit for Hatfield in Universal Heart-Beat. The video featured Hatfield as an overly demanding aerobics instructor. Prior to the tour for 'Only Everything', Hatfield released Phillips and brought on Jason Sutter (American Hi-Fi, Chris Cornell, Jack Drag), as well as Ed Slanker (Thudpucker, Tinsel) on 2nd guitar, and Lisa Mednick on keyboards. Two weeks into the tour, Hatfield canceled the tour citing exhaustion, and took a month long break. Sutter was replaced by once again drummer Phillips, and touring resumed with Jeff Buckley as the opening act.
In 1996 she traveled to Woodstock, New York where she recorded tracks for God's Foot, which was to be her fourth solo album (third if not counting Become What You Are, which was recorded with the Juliana Hatfield Three), intended for 1997 release. Containing some of Hatfield's finest work to date, the album was unfortunately put on indefinite hold by her record company due to a disagreement with Hatfield. Only substandard bootleg versions of these songs (which do not meet Hatfield's approval) have surfaced and she has rarely featured them in her subsequent live performances.
During this time Hatfield left Atlantic Records and ventured back into indie-world. She recorded a six song EP titled Please Do Not Disturb, along with Todd Phillips and Ed Slanker, and with new bass player Mikey Welsh (Weezer). The EP produced by Hatfield features a tender song "Trying Not To Think About It" which is a tribute to the deceased musician Jeff Buckley who was a friend of Hatfield's. The EP was released on Bar/None Records in 1997.
Following the traumatic experiences surrounding God's Foot and her departure from Atlantic Records, Hatfield recorded the album Bed in 1998 in six days, about which she says on her website: "It sounds as raw as I felt. It has no pretty sheen. The mistakes and unattractive parts were left in, not erased. Just like my career. Just like life."
In 2000, she released Beautiful Creature, an album which was among the most critically well-received of her career. This album left the rockier side of Hatfield's musical personality unexpressed, however, so at the same time she also recorded Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure with Zephan Courtney and Mikey Welsh, which she describes as "a loud release of tension", with "lots of long sloppy guitar solos. And no love songs...a not-at-all attractive reaction to the ugly side of humanity, specifically American culture" The two albums were initially released in a set as a pair. Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure was however received very badly by the critics, who much preferred the acoustic songwriting on Beautiful Creature. On Beautiful Creature Hatfield worked with Austin-based musician Davíd Garza who co-produced much of the album. Wally Gagel a producer for Sebadoh and Tanya Donelly helped Hatfield record her most electronica influenced songs "Cool Rock Boy" and "Don't Rush Me" which added texture to the otherwise acoustic album.
2002 saw the release of Hatfield's first "best-of" album. The album, titled Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection, featured the singles from her solo albums. It also contained two of the songs from the previously unreleased God's Foot, a cover of Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart, as well as four new recordings.
In 2004 Hatfield released In Exile Deo, which was arguably an attempt at a more commercial sound, with input from producers and engineers who'd worked with Pink and Avril Lavigne. Hatfield did however produce the album herself with David Leanord receiving co-production credits on "Jamie's In Town" and the bright rocker "Sunshine'. The critics loved it, with a couple calling it her best work since the start of her solo career.
By contrast, the 2005 album Made in China was released on her own new record label, Ye Olde Records, and has a much rawer feel. John Doe of the band X described the disc as "A frighteningly dark & beautiful record filled w/ stark, angular, truly brutal songs & guitars. This is surely a 'Woman Under the Influence', though I'm not sure of what". Reviews were very mixed, with some liking the lo-fi sound, but others seeing it as slackness.
In December 2005 Hatfield toured the United States with the band X, whom she idolized during her teenage years.
In 2006, Hatfield released her first live album. Titled The White Broken Line: Live Recordings, the album featured performances from her tour with X. This was Hatfield's third release for her record label.
Hatfield's 9th studio album, How To Walk Away was released on August 19, 2008 on Ye Olde Records. The album's heartfelt subject on the break-up of a relationship resonated with critics, who gave the album largely positive reviews, with some hailing it as her best album since In Exile Deo.
On September 29, 2008 it was followed by her memoir, When I Grow Up.
Hatfield returned 2 years later as her 10th studio album Peace & Love was released on Ye Olde Records, February 16, 2010. The album's composition, arrangement, performance, production, engineering and mixing was solely credited to Hatfield.
There's Always Another Girl was released on August 30, 2011 again independently on her Ye Olde Records label.
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