PASS THE JAM

But let's forget about lyrics; the 26-year-old guitarist is coming up with some of the best pop melodies and arrangements going. The 12 songs on her latest release have more hooks than a Japanese trawler; you can hear echoes of Big Star, the Wygals, even, yes, the Go-Go's. "This Is the Sound," one of the strongest tracks, could be straight from the dB's songbook; Become was produced by ex-dB's knob man Scott Litt.

"My Sister," Hatfield's finger-snappin' saga of sibling life, sounds like easy MTV fodder, and, judging from appearances, so is she. The diminutive singer is more striking than beautiful, a Wasp from a wealthy Massachusetts family who wears the obligatory thrift-store garb. Her first exposure to "hip rock n' roll bands" was from "a nanny . . . who brought a cool record collection," Hatfield told Rolling Stone magazine. It's no wonder Juliana Hatfield Three is currently opening up for Paul Westerberg. Her band churns out the same type of generally upbeat music with dark, introspective lyrics as does the ex-Mat himself. Become is simply a better album than last year's Hey Babe; whatever follows should be something to look forward to. God forbid Hatfield should work out her problems between now and then.--Peter Gilstrap

Juliana Hatfield Three will perform on Tuesday, November 9, at Club Rio in Tempe, with Paul Westerberg. Showtime is 8 p.m.

The Loved Ones
The Price for Love
(Hightone)

Remember when the Stones were snotty, clear-eyed disciples of the blues? When Jagger actually practiced his harmonica licks? When they dressed in hip-hugging, stovepipe pants, striped jackets and skinny ties? If you can't conjure up that vision, you have two choices: Dig out a copy of The Rolling Stones Now! or check out the Loved Ones.

Actually, the Loved Ones are more bluesy than the Toxic Twins ever were. Ambitions to mainstream the sound and become Stones clones are not fully realized--at least not yet.

The upbeat "Jaguar Blues" and the slow grind "I Told the Truth" are both head-on, electric-blues numbers that convincingly ape both the Texas and Chicago traditions. There's also a vein of power-guitar blues-rock in this band's bag of tricks. And the sleazy leanings of tunes like "Don't Put Your Spell on Me" provide a lounge-rock streak.

Doors fans don't need to avoid this roots recording, either. Hitched to a creeping tempo and spiced with banging percussion, the very Doorslike "Devils Moon" features vocalist Bart Davenport doing his best Lizard King impersonation.

Overall, this is one of the more surprising discs to come along in some time. Leave it to the Bay Area music scene to give birth to a blues band that looks like the Monkees. If nothing else, The Price for Love proves that the adage about not judging an album by its cover is still gospel.

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