Rock band from Provincetown, Rhode Island, formed mid 1980's by the nucleus of Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly who are half sisters. First album was released by 4AD records in the United Kingdom and
redefined absurdist rock music. Music is characterised by constantly changing tempos, strange lyrics and heavy emotion. They had 6-8 albums but never got past cult status, broke up for financial reasons in 1997. Pixies were influenced by them, and were much more popular.

The original incarnation of the band which became Throwing Muses, circa 1982, was known as Kristin Hersh and The Muses, and consisted of stepsisters Kristin Hersh (naturally) and Tanya Donelly both on guitar and vocals (though Kristin was the more dominant in songwriting and vocals), in addition to Elaine Adamendes on bass and Becca Blumen on drums. This lineup was never signed, but recorded demos and early versions of what later became Throwing Muses songs.

The next incarnation of the band, around 1983, replaced Becca with David Narcizo on drums, and the name changed to Throwing Muses (Muses being typically thought of as female characters...). This group recorded more demos (including as The Doghouse Cassette in 1984 which went on to form the bulk of the material on the second disk of the 1998 double-CD release In A Doghouse), as well as a single released on the Blowing Fuses label.

The Doghouse Cassette

  1. Call Me
  2. Sinkhole
  3. Green
  4. Hate My Way
  5. Vicky's Box
  6. America (She Can't Say No)
  7. Fear
  8. Raise the Roses
  9. And A She-Wolf After The War
  10. Fish

In 1985, Elaine was replaced by Leslie Langston, the band were signed to 4AD and in 1986 recorded their eponymous debut album. This lineup remained fairly stable for a while, recording The Fat Skier, House Tornado, and Hunkpapa.

Throwing Muses

  1. Call Me
  2. Green
  3. Hate My Way
  4. Vicky's Box
  5. Rabbits Dying
  6. America
  7. Fear
  8. Stand Up
  9. Soul Soldiers
  10. Delicate Cutters

The Fat Skier

  1. Garoux des Larmes
  2. Pools in Eyes
  3. A Feeling
  4. Soap and Water
  5. And a She-Wolf After the War
  6. You Cage

House Tornado

  1. Colder
  2. Mexican Women
  3. River
  4. Juno
  5. Marriage Tree
  6. Run Letter
  7. Saving Grace
  8. Drive
  9. Downtown
  10. Giant
  11. Walking in the Dark

Hunkpapa

  1. Devil's Roof
  2. Bea
  3. Dizzy
  4. No Parachutes
  5. Dragonhead
  6. Say Goodbye (A very much shorter version of the song on Ramona)
  7. Fall Down
  8. I'm Alive
  9. Angel
  10. Mania
  11. The Burrow
  12. Take
  13. Santa Claus

In 1990, Leslie Langston was replaced by Fred Abong, and Tanya got involved with The Breeders as a side-project though still remaining in the 'Muses. 1991 saw the release of The Real Ramona album, and the single that almost got them a 'hit', Counting Backwards; shortly after which Tanya left the group to form Belly.

The Real Ramona

  1. Counting Backwards
  2. Him Dancing
  3. Red Shoes
  4. Graffiti
  5. Golden Thing
  6. Ellen West
  7. Dylan
  8. Hook In Her Head
  9. Not Too Soon
  10. Honeychain
  11. Say Goodbye
  12. Two Step

The next album, Red Heaven saw Kristin picking up the slack left by Tanya, and the inclusion of a collaboration with Bob Mould (of Husker Du) It feels a very transitional album, the band unsure of their old Kafka-influenced roots. And indeed it was, with the next album, 1994's University marking the departure of Fred and his replacement by Bernard Georges, and a return to some of the powerful pop sounds of Hunkpapa and The Real Ramona, to critical acclaim and some reasonable commercial success.

Red Heaven

  1. Furious
  2. Firepile
  3. Dio (with Bob Mould)
  4. Dirty Water
  5. Stroll
  6. Pearl
  7. Summer St
  8. Vic
  9. Backroad
  10. The Visit
  11. Dovey
  12. Rosetta Stone
  13. Carnival Wig

University

  1. Bright Yellow Gun
  2. Start
  3. Hazing
  4. Shimmer
  5. Calm Down, Come Down
  6. Crabtown
  7. Now Way in Hell
  8. Surf Cowboy
  9. That's All You Wanted
  10. Teller
  11. University
  12. Snakeface
  13. Flood
  14. Fever Few

Shortly before splitting (no pun intended), they released Limbo in 1996, whose title track still haunts me to this day...

Picture this gun; I'm tired of crying... I'm going to run.

Post-breakup, Bernard and David went on to form Lakuna, while Kristin has worked solo for four albums, but peaked early with her debut solo single, Your Ghost, featuring Michael Stipe on backing vocals.


March 25, 2003

And then, in late 2002/early 2003, the 'Muses reformed for a tour and a new album. Still Kristin, Bernard and David, but also joined by Tanya Donelly for backing vocals on a few album tracks.

Confusingly, the new album is named Throwing Muses, just like the eponymous debut album. Released on 17th March 2003 (in the UK at least), tracks are:

Throwing Muses

  1. Mercury
  2. Pretty or Not
  3. Civil Disobedience
  4. Pandora's Box
  5. Status Quo
  6. Speed and Sleep
  7. Portia
  8. Solar Dip
  9. Epiphany
  10. Los Flamingos
  11. Half Blast
  12. Flying

It's a very raw sounding album, with fairly simple instrumentation, and no complicated guitar overdubs. In many ways it actually reminds me of Riot Act, though it's still distinctly Muses in pace.

Also, I managed to catch them on tour, at the Astoria in London last week. I'm still awed.

Sources
http://www.evo.org/html/group/throwingmuses.html
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/1625/tanya_timeline.html
http://www.rccinc.com/Users/Tyler/fanmag.html
~mcewanca/.workmandb for track listings... :)

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