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Blake Babies

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Boston, United States (1986 – 1991, 1999 – 2001)

Blake Babies was an indie rock band formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts. The three primary members were John Strohm, Freda Love (born Freda Boner), and Juliana Hatfield, with Evan Dando, Andrew Mayer, Seth White, and Mike Leahy each also performing as members of the band at various times during its history.

The name “Blake Babies” was provided by the poet Allen Ginsberg; following a reading at Harvard University, the group (which had just begun to play together) raised their hands and asked him to name their band. Ginsberg’s suggestion was likely inspired by the first half of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. The name proved quite apt in regard to what was perhaps the group’s most distinctive aspect: the juxtaposition of Hatfield’s pure, somewhat thin and childlike (yet forceful) vocal quality with often surprisingly acerbic lyrics.

Musically, the Blake Babies’ songs are highly melodic, with instruments supporting rather than covering vocals; in this way, their music falls somewhere between pop and rock and could be described as “power pop”. Songs are generally upbeat and the group’s work features both female (Hatfield) and male (Strohm) vocals, often together in harmony or in octaves. Strohm’s intricate guitar picking style and preference for a “clean” (as opposed to distorted) guitar tone owes much to R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, although Neil Young and punk rock are other important influences.

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