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Earwig

Blake Babies

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Album Review

A giant step beyond the Blake Babies' scattershot 1987 debut, Nicely Nicely, 1989's Earwig is an utter delight. Although it was recorded during a period of personnel instability, before the group had once and for all settled into the trio format of Juliana Hatfield on bass and vocals, John P. Strohm on guitar, and Freda Boner on drums, there's a cohesion to this album that makes it greater than the sum of its individual parts. Opening with the mildly petulant ecological rant "Cesspool," the album quickly settles into the niche that would remain the Blake Babies' for the rest of their career: first-person songs about life among the young and disenchanted. "You Don't Give Up," "Don't Suck My Breath," and the sneering "Take Your Head off My Shoulder" initiate the rocky relationship with romance that's the hallmark of Hatfield's lyrics, and songs like the moody, almost ambient "From Here to Burma" indicate a wider frame of musical reference than many groups of their ilk. Though the band would quickly outshine it with the mini-masterpiece Sunburn, Earwig was the album on which the Blake Babies proved that they were among the most important groups on the nascent indie rock underground.

Customer Reviews

Genius post-REM college jangle

This is truly the Blake Babies' best record, not Sunburn. A perfect encapsulation of the REM-influenced guitar sound of finger picking on the edge of country (without going over), with odd chord progressions keeping it interesting, and most of all the pretty but wounded neighbor girl sound of Juliana Hatfield. My brother, a fan of Cameo ("Word Up"), wanted a copy of this. Juliana's done great stuff since with that voice, but this is still the most melodic.

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Biography

Formed: 1986 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

While Blake Babies made several engaging records in the late '80s and early '90s, they never broke out of the collegiate rock circles where they were adored. It wasn't until 1992 that their leader, Juliana Hatfield, began getting recognition as a songwriter in more mainstream publications, but that was after the group was broken up. Over their four albums, Hatfield's songwriting and thin, girlish singing improved drastically as the band's post-R.E.M. alternative pop grew more muscular, branching...
Full Bio