Boog City reviews Feel It

Take one tremendously talented singer/songwriter/guitarist who stepped off the always-tottering indie pedestal back in the mid-90s, and place her smack dab in between two equally gifted musicians. The result? Some Girls, a vibrant new trio made up of Juliana Hatfield, Freda Love and Heidi Gluck.

Some Girls traces its roots back to late-80s Boston, when Hatfield and Love comprised two-thirds of the burgeoning scene’s seminal Blake Babies. The jangle-pop indie darlings — who carved out a sweet sound that belied a frequently dark lyrical core — called it quits in 1992. But a one-off 2001 reunion reminded the two women how much they enjoyed playing together.

As tapes traveled through the post between Love’s Bloomington home and Hatfield’s Cambridge address, snippets of notes became full-fledged songs shimmering with potential. When they decided to meet up for demo sessions, Love’s multi-instrumentalist Indianapolis friend Heidi Gluck joined in to flesh out the sound. It didn’t take long to realize the chemistry and chords were there to record a full-length record.

Feel It, Some Girls’ debut release on Koch Records, will hit stores September 9th. The skillfully spare production by Jake Smith (Mysteries of Life, Vulgar Boatmen) steps out of the way for these 11 sparkling songs — as he makes the difficult seem simple.

Hatfield has received her share of accolades over the years, but she’s also taken a few critical kicks. Her confidence is at an all-time high on the band’s first single, “Necessito.” (“Critics with their death threats, I just drown them out”). A funky, relaxed ode to the necessity of loud music, the composition is pared down, clean, and comprised of a deceptively straightforward riff — catchy as hell — played over and over to winning effect.

Tape rolls sloppily into “The Prettiest Girl,” an ode to a Hatfield high school classmate who was rumored to have attempted suicide. Love’s steady buoyant beat underscores the simple chorus, while a background chant of “hey hey” lies under a layer of choppy guitar.

Every song on Feel It is accessible without being predictable — and a healthy handful are instantly catchy. You’d be hard-pressed to hear “Necessito” or “On My Back” just once and not catch them running through your head on repeat.

Hatfield’s voice has grown deeper and breathier with age, lending itself nicely to the smattering of blues-influenced numbers on the record, including an inspired refashioning of the Robert Johnson classic, “Malted Milk.” For those who have heard Hatfield’s live renditions over the years, this studio recording is a true treat, an undercurrent of rumble and texture in Hatfield’s voice and Gluck’s slide guitar lazily swaying throughout.

Love’s songwriting skills have sharpened with this release. She's penned an instantly classic lyric with “Almost True” (“Our love is real and almost true”), while Hatfield adds a haunting whisper during the bridge, barely audible beneath the song’s surface.

With a decidedly Velvet Underground-tinged backbeat, “Launch Pad” is the lone song sung by Love on Feel It. Hatfield and Gluck entwine their backing vocals throughout as the song reaches a controlled frenzy, and then abruptly ends in a happy, exhausted heap.

Some Girls’ signature sound snakes through each of these tracks, a groove that weaves together pop, alt-country, blues, and even a fragment of funk. Simple beats bookend unexpected turns, capturing an exact yet casual feel. There’s no slick sheen here, only a truthful, organic groove.

Stacee Sledge is a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.


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