on 30 March 2003
The Throwing Muses were one of the most promising rock bands to emerge in the mid 80’s. They produced some of the most outstanding and original music not only of the 80’s but, in my opinion, in the history of rock. With roots in the folk-punk of the Raincoats and Slits, they created a cacophonous sound of women possessed by goddesses, in songs with remarkable lyrics that easily slipped between time signatures and unique tempos. Although Sleater-Kinney later appropriated, and refined some of their magical art-punk-pop ethos, their sound remained like no others. After about two years, this formative period (most of which is available on “In A Doghouse”) gave way to a more listener friendly version of Indypop. Although tamed by the industry, and aiming for commercial success, occasional signs of their early genius popped up on records now and then.
Now nearly 17 years after the original brilliant self titled album “Throwing Muses”, they have re-released a new self-titled CD that recaptures and builds upon this early period. Although the live production is occasionally muddy, this nevertheless may be their best album yet. Bandleader, Kristen Hersh’s new spare acoustic solo album also is a great complement. Along with the new Cat Power, this is shaping up to be a great year in rock!
on 9 September 2006
Their heaviest album to date which means you won't find any Bright Yellow Guns, Firepiles or even Ruthie's Knockings amongst this bunch but it's still a pleaser. Half Blast is the main attraction here and Tanya on backing vocals, even for 5 of the songs is very welcome.
Highlight: Half Blast
This was my first time listening to a Throwing Muses album, and I loved it. The guitar sounds and vocals on this album are raw and rough and loud and and and...
There are some really strong songs on this album, ones that you will not be able to get out of your head, ie SolarDip and Pandora's Box. Hersch's voice is superb, swinging from lullaby mode to rock-star mode in an instant.
This is definitely one to buy
on 25 March 2003
OK, it certainly won't be to everyone's tastes and it may not be the most accessible music around, but that doesn't detract from how good this is.
Since the Muses's broke up a few years ago, Kristin Hersh has been producing some excellent music. What could the Muses do that she couldn't do on her own? The answer is found here. This CD is raw, there are time signature and volume changes that haven't been found in her solo work. And although Tanya Donelly hasn't rejoined permanently, her backing vocals lift this music. David Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges supply the backing in their distinctive styles. The songs may be Kristin's, the realisation is the Muses.
The opening track “Mercury” sets the tone – a four beat count in followed by a manic riff before settling into the vocal at a half the pace. This is not music for those who like their music straightforward. As the song develops, the vocal lines become more entwined and reminiscent of the Muses’ debut album.
Similar twists accompany many of the other tracks. “Pretty or Not” strolls through the verses until the chorus kicks in with a 6/8 beat and distorted guitar raising the energy. “Solar Dip” switches between 4/4 and 6/8 in alternate phrases – sounds a bit bizarre but it works. “Status Quo” could be taken from any of the first three albums, the end as Kristin sings “what do you have on your mind?” is full of the emotion that distinguishes he from so many other singers. I could go on through every song but I think I’d be too indulgent.
The final two tracks though are incredible. “Half Blast” starts with distorted bass and a slow picked riff, a melancholy vocal, the odd extra beat to unsettle…before launching into the uplifting chorus of “come outside, everyone’s outside, everything’s alright”. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up the first time I listened to it…
“Flying” completes the record with a driving, lifting beat. Again the vocals, this time with careful echo and reverb create something more than your run of the mill indie album. As Kristin sings “I want you so bad, what can I do?”, you believe it as it feels every emotion has been poured into this music.
I can’t imagine this converting anyone to the Throwing Muses on first listening, as I said, it’s not the most accessible music. But it is worth persevering with, it is powerful, challenging and uplifting music.
For those who know them, this is possibly their best work. It’s good to have them back.
on 10 June 2011
Why didn't I buy this years ago? Actually, I know why I didn't. I got the fear after University, the album I didn't like by the band who had been so unfailingly, so intensely perfect in everything they'd done right from the beginning. One of my discomforts of the fad for reformed bands is that some things are best left how they were. My fear of buying more Muses material after University was of the initial greatness being diluted by latter day mediocrity.
There are no such worries with this release though. It's not a case of picking up from where they left off but there is a sense of progression and continuity from The Real Ramona and Red Heaven, where the songs had become less cramped, more straightforward and more linear in form. This album has the feel of a more mature, more assured Throwing Muses; little on this CD would have found its way on to anything before The Real Ramona, which is not to say it's easy listening. There are poppier, more Belly-like moments such as Portia, but other tracks have an unmistakable Throwing Muses pedigree; Pretty or Not switches between time signatures in typical fashion and balances quiet segments with sections that could almost be called grungey. Epiphany is almost a distillation of what a Throwing Muses song is, albeit with a more heavy metal drumming style than we're used to. And while Kristin's voice has lost the scarier, fractured edge it had in the early days it has a ravaged quality which speaks of a life lived and is still capable of alarming the unwary. It's a pretty heavy album, if you need a reference point then it's probably Dio from Red Heaven.
They save the best to last. Half Blast is the Muses at full tilt; the heavy, pulsing distortion of closer Flying is a real treat, it's a track that could sit proudly on any of their albums to date and makes you want to listen to the whole lot all the way through again. And why not?
on 16 November 2014
Tanya Donnelly joins Hersh again for a wonderful album - the Muses always seem timeless to me, but Donnelly adds that certain something, a little more sweetness to the mix again, while regaining the punchy quirkiness of TM that they've always had.
on 19 March 2003
Not for the faint hearted this album is guaranteed to appeal to returning Fans of throwing muses as well as new converts. There are echo's of the Pixies, Pearl Jam, and newer bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle club but most of all this album leaves you in no doubt that it is a muses effort.
Much has been made of the line up in that Kirsten Hersh, David Narcizo, Bernard Georges are rejoined with Hersh's half sister Tanya Donelly but if listened to as a continuum through Real Ramona, Red Heaven, University, Limbo and now the eponymously entitled Throwing Muses there is a continuing theme.
The albumn kicks off with the dark brooding base of Mercury "I am the opposite of you" sings Hersh. There are several moments of brilliance in the album but this; more than previous Muses records needs time. Civil Disobedience is a track that Pearl Jam would be proud of. Status Quo starts with grating guitars and symbol but then at 55secs Narcizo enters with a 4/4 beat joined by a traditional Muses guitar hook. Speed and sleep begins with melodic dark bass and lead guitar echoes. The albumn gets stronger through each track - Portia is perhaps the most poppy moment and Epiphany starts reminiscent of Two Step or Santa Claus from earlier Muses albums but develops into a 4/4 guitar churning broken by Narcizo's drums, Donelly's cries and Hershes guitar. The closing track Flying is a track that summarises the albumn as a whole - Hersh growls and agonises, Donelly soars, Narcizo's drumming is perfection adjoined by bass that underlies the song.
In short these 12 songs depict a return for a strong Muses line-up certainly not short on musical creativity or ability. This is an album like none other on the market presently and contains a richness sadly lacking in the years since 1996's Limbo.
on 20 March 2003
When the Throwing Muses released "Limbo" in 1996 I thought that it was to be their last album. There were a few previously unreleased tracks on the 1998 collection "In A Doghouse" but I was thrilled to learn that 2003 would mark a return for the band that has touched me more than any other.
"Throwing Muses" is a wonderful set of twelve brand new songs. The band is the same line up from "Limbo", Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo and Bernard Georges, and includes backing vocals from Tanya Donelly on five of the tracks.
The opening notes from the powerful "Mercury" signify the album's intent. The Muses are straight down to business with stop-start drumming, a ferocity and energy that I know from albums such as "Red Heaven", and the complicated layers of sound that no other band has ever matched in my experience. "I hope I don't stomp on your heart I know what that's like", sings Kristin, and you can hear it in her voice, she knows.
There are at least two people inside Kristin Hersh's body, one is sweet and gentle, one is full of demons and pain. This is evident on the second track "Pretty Or Not". It starts off gently and then erupts as she screeches the chorus. It drags the listener into her world and forces them to pay attention.
The songs are full of startling changes of tempo and volume, and each is like a little journey. "Status Quo" highlights this about three minutes into the song when it completely changes, like many of the songs on the debut album all those years ago.
Speed And Sleep is very scary. It is a song of betrayal and I hope that it isn't true, although I fear that it is. This woman has been hurt enough already. I love the line "Tiny strings across the United States run from you to me and to everyone we ever breathed with". It makes me think of Fate and the times I have met Kristin and the band.
Solar Dip is already a classic Muses song, one of the best things they have ever produced. It is like a rollercoaster ride with complicated changes throughout. Ferocious and compelling.
Epiphany has a beautiful guitar line in it that almost speaks. This is full of melancholy and reminds me of something ending.
The chorus of Half Blast sounds more like something Belly would do. Maybe that is because Tanya's backing vocals remind me of that sound? I think this would make the best single.
Every track here is a success. After seven years it is more than I ever hoped for.
Listening to the Muses is never dull. Kristin's voice reminds me of Mother Nature. One minute you are in the eye of the hurricane, with chaos and destruction all around you, the next moment you are bathed in warm sunshine and touched by a gentle breeze. The guitar sound is unique and unmistakable, the vocals are strong and she lives them as she sings. David and Bernard are the perfect compliment to provide the multi-layers of sound, and Tanya's contribution is a welcome one after such a long absence.
Amazingly enough, this album could be the best thing the Muses have ever produced. I don't say that lightly. I can't imagine life without Kristin Hersh's voice being in it. Please buy this album and experience music that touches every emotion and the very core of your being.
on 26 March 2003
Throwing Muses have never been an easy ride. When I first heard them back in the late 80's I would never have believed they would come to be so important in my life - but they have. Rarely does a band trigger so many emotions in me - love, fear, excitment, reverence - but this one does. When they plit in 97 I was devastated.When I heard that they were back I was overjoyed, but anxious incase they could no longer deliver the excellence I was used to .How could I have doubted them? This cd is superb - raw, rocking and emtionally charged. Kristins voice and guitar is as unique as ever, Bernard's bass is heavy , and David's drumming is what it aleays is; a powerhouse. Tanya Donelly adds some welcome vocal harmonies, but this is definitely a cd by the power trio Muses.Lyrically the songs are emotional, personal , angry, joyful and at times humerous.As soon as kristin sings "I am a compliment to you" on the first track "Mercury" you know that it's true - you can't be without them! Stand out tracks for me are Mercury, Solar dip, Pretty or Not and Status Quo, but each time I listen to it something new grabs me - a new melody, a fresh twist of Kristin's voice, another choice lyric, etc. This really is a stomping return, and as they demonstrated on their recent European tour dates, this band have lost non of their edge in their time away. Let's hope they stick around for some more.
on 25 March 2003
I should say that I'm a massive Throwing Muses fan - so it's not worthwhile just to say that this is good: I need to put it in relation to the rest of their material.
They've been away since the largely disappointing Limbo, with Kristin Hersh's solo career going fairly well Some of the songs here were previewed in the 'Gut Pageant' occasional reunion gigs, and the whole album was recorded over a year ago, with release having to wait until Kristin had her latest baby.
This is a 'power' album. It rocks. It rocks like the Muses haven't done since Red Heaven, the album that showed the loss of Tanya Donelly wasn't terminal. I think this is the strongest album since, at least, the aforementioned Red Heaven. Arguably since The Real Ramona.
Portia and Solar Dip sound like they could have been on Limbo - where they would have probably have been the best tracks. There's more, er, balls, to this.
The rest of Throwing Muses (this new album, not the previous one of the same name!) is new ground for TM, but still retains their distinctive style.
Give it a try. Make sure you get to the end - Half Blast and Flying are the best two tracks in my view.
Only the odd weak moment like Status Quo (how can a track with that title ever be any good!) stops it from getting five stars. To hear Kristin rock again is a treat.