Music » Music News

Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection


Anna Waronker
Anna by Anna Waronker
Five Foot Two

“Girls with guitars were all the rage,” Juliana Hatfield says, explaining the circumstances surrounding her mid-’90s major-label deal. “I sort of tried to play the [industry’s] game for awhile ... but I was disqualified because I wouldn’t smile for the camera.” Duh: When it comes to female musicians, lips and hips matter most to the big boys, so it was practically inevitable that Atlantic would send her packing when she refused to p(r)imp and preen after her buzz-bin-sized successes (“My Sister,” “Universal Heartbeat”). Unfortunately, ignoring the biz’s sexist double standards has cost her a mainstream presence ever since.

Which may be why Gold Stars, Hatfield’s 20-track solo retrospective, leans heavily toward her post-Atlantic output. I can’t blame her for wanting to bring listeners up to speed on her low-profile career of late, but it makes for a rather lopsided look back. By reducing her first three albums to only five songs — while overloading on excellent new numbers — the album lacks some of her better-known material, particularly from 1993’s Become What You Are. Still, Gold Stars is a flawed-but-fine collection of Hatfield’s moody, melancholic pop rock, adeptly illustrating how the ex-Blake Baby became one of Alternative Nation’s most emotionally incisive, insightful voices.

Having survived the same industry binge ’n’ purge of so-called girls-with-guitars as Hatfield, Anna Waronker also learned a thing or two about the bullshit of being alt-rock’s next big thing. Five years after being handed her DGC walking papers from That Dog (“He’s Kissing Christian”), she’s now playing by her rules and releasing the sublime, New Wave-inspired solo debut on her own label. Indie life suits her too: Anna by Anna Waronker is her most infectious work yet, with 14 clap-along tracks of harmonic heartbreak and pure summer-pop perfection — windows down, radio up.

Not that Waronker or Hatfield have delusions of actually getting on the airwaves anymore. They went through that alt-rock wringer six years ago, and have emerged with some of their best work on their own terms. Just don’t call it a comeback, ’cause they’ve been here all along.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.