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The Blake Babies' second full LP, Earwig, is a lush and lovely, dense and extremely pointed essay on sex, the loss of innocence, stupid men, and pollution. The band is a highly textured and hugely melodic threesome from Bloomington by way of Boston--the three met at the Berklee School of Music. Freda Boner drums swimmingly and without cliche, and guitarist John Strohm is my kind of guitar god, keeping the riffs economical but blowing your head off with a distortion bomb when the situation warrants. But it's the canny, searching vocals and scathing lyrics of bassist Juliana Hatfield that steal the show. Casually and without pretense she finds power in even the most cutting romantic loss, and is remarkably clearheaded on more quotidian concerns as well: on "Cesspool" a plangent, cascading song about pollution, she concludes, "I'll take my guns and both of my friends / We'll make some righteous amends." Did I mention sex? Earwig is full of it, from the charming double entendre ("Why don't you finish what you start") of "Lament" to a steamy, gender-fractured reading of the Stooges' outlandish "Loose." They're terrific live; it's worth getting to tonight's show early to see Chicago's own Slugs, who open. Tonight, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. Saturday, 2 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 404-5080.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeanne Marie Head.

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