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Juliana Hatfield: Peace & Love, in "Nothing Not New"

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Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.


Artist: Juliana Hatfield
Title: Peace & Love
Release date: February 16, 2010
Label: Ye Olde Records
It's time once again to reach into the "Nothing Not New" mailbag. On Friday night, I received a comment about my blog post on Hot Chip's One Life Stand record from the clever nom de critic "anonymous." Generally, I liked the music and the overall feel of the record, but I thought the singer sounded a little like Boy George. In the end, I gave this interesting a record a B+, which compelled "anonymous" to leave this succinct declarative: "you utter cock." Wow, "anonymous" must either really hate Hot Chip or love Boy George. 

Another comment came in over the weekend, also from "anonymous," presumably a different "anonymous." I can tell they're different because this commenter used better put-downs. This particular commenter called me a "massive codpiece." You have to admit, that's kind of funny and much more original than "you utter cock" (though I got some mileage out of "you utter cock" all weekend long).

Anyway, thanks for reading, everybody. Now, onto something missing from the hearts and minds of all the "anonymouses" out there: peace and love. Put down your Hot Chips, boys, and take a listen to the new record by Juliana Hatfield, who in the first 30 seconds of the opening title track sets the tone for the next 39 minutes by singing: "I won't give up on peace and love."

Even at 42 years old, she still has that cute-girl voice that helped make her a minor celebrity in the early '90s. And despite that baby-doll voice, she sounds really sad. On this mostly acoustic record, Hatfield longingly sings about a world in which she really wants things to be better. Check out the song titles: "The End of War," "Why Can't We Love Each Other," "What Is Wrong," "I'm Disappearing."

Then there's track seven, called "Evan," in which she sings: "There was blood / But I was all smiles / Because I was in love." Presumably, she's singing about Evan Dando, the guy from The Lemonheads. Hatfield has recorded and performed with Dando on numerous occasions and was linked romantically with him a long time ago. She must still pine for the guy because she sings at the end of the song, "Evan, I just love, I guess." 

My favorite song is easily the final track on the record, "Dear Anonymous." In that one, she sings, "Dear Anonymous / Why do you taunt me? / The war your in is all in your head / Oh, my God it must be terrible to sign your name / Too ashamed to show your face / Oh, what did they do to you to make you this way." I wonder whether Juliana was ever called "you utter cock." I sure hope not; she sounds like she's a nice person.

Best song: "Dear Anonymous." As somewhere who writes for and patrols New Times' blogs all day long, this song speaks to me.
Rotation: Medium
Deja Vu: 1992
I'd rather listen to: Blake Babies' Earwig
Grade: B

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