If you’re like me, you miss The Replacements. Actually, if you’re like me, you love Paul Westerberg’s solo albums, too. He’s a buy-on-sight artist for me. Also if you’re like me, you liked The Lemonheads and Blake’s Babies, and probably dug the Juliana Hatfield Three, but you haven’t listened to anything Hatfiled for years. And you never associated the upbeat, jangly pop of Hatfield’s work with the punky guitar and nasally, “What Dylan would sound like if he could sing,” vocals of Westerberg. But it turns out, Paul is the peanut butter to Hatfield’s chocolate. They go phenomenally well together. Songs like “Sorry For Tomorrow Night” could easily have been recorded by the Replacements, but Hatfield’s harmonies bring some sunshine in. The single, “Born For Me,” could have been ‘90s indie hit for Juliana, but Paul gives it a gravitas you don’t expect from a pop song. And then there are simple songs like “Kissing Break,” that are sweet and primitive and simple, and give the record unexpected texture. That song in particular reminded me of Westerberg’s duet with Joan Jett, “Let’s Do It,” which I found on the Tank Girl Soundtrack (a damn good record, by the way), in how it feels modern and quaint simultaneously.
It concludes with a curiously long song—something Westerberg usually avoids—titles, “Hands Together.” It’s a nostalgic anthem that sound like a Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen song.
I never imagined these two artists performing together, but now that I’ve heard it I’ll associate them forever. LIke Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs or Ted Leo and Aimee Mann.
It’s a great record, and it’s bound to make several end-of-the-year lists—mine, included.
The Current is streaming the obvious single, Born For Me, which you can find here.
Sadly, the artists aren’t offering any legal streams for indie reviewers like myself. Which is a little odd, but whatever. It’s hard to hold anything against these guys.