Posts Tagged ‘throwing muses’

Throwing Muses at Big Takeover

P/P arrived in 2013 as a book containing lyrics, artwork, and downloads, but here it is a 32 song double LP, vinyl manifesto. After 2003, Kristin Hersh released her solo albums and some 50 Foot Wave material, but it took a decade to get this fractured and sprawling Throwing Muses epic into shape. There’s a method to this madness, as the “songs” are actually bits and pieces, scattered like memory, loss, hope, and joy across a hardwood floor of emotions. It’s as if the band smashed everything they’ve ever done and are now picking up the pieces, and we’ve been challenged to join them in their quest for a new muse.

[Print edition]

Throwing Muses at Get It On Vinyl

I was not thrilled to have a Throwing Muses album passed my way to review. At best Throwing Muses was a lingering memory for me, and at worst, I might have had them confused with another band altogether. I wasn’t a Throwing Muses fan when they were in their peak. It’s not that I didn’t like alternative or indie rock. I have always listened to Dinosaur Jr., R.E.M., the Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, etc… The throwing muses were just never on my radar. They always struck me as a band my sister would be into. You see, the Throwing Muses have been around since the mid 80’s. They were never a hugely commercial band, but they had some street credibility. They were a college rock band through and through. They made smart music, which as a thirteen year old boy, was just not my thing.

When I put Throwing Muses’ new LP, Purgatory/ Paradise on my turntable, I was pleasantly surprised. Nine records and close to twenty years into their careers, the Throwing Muses still seem to be going strong. With this being said, I have to admit that Purgatory/ Paradise is an intimidating album.Purgatory/ Paradise is a massive two disc set with thirty-two songs. It’s not an album that’s even easily digestible in one sitting. The mood and groves of the album shift from song to song never really letting you drift away from the music. This is a project that demands your time, but it seems to be time well spent.

Lead singer Kristen Hersh has an emotive and distinctive voice. She has a contemplative feel to her singing which is occasionally accented with flares of gravel voiced low key blue eyed soul. The music on Purgatory/ Paradiseranges from the low key indie feel of “Smokey Hands 1,” to the fiery edgy alternative to “Sleepwalking 2,” and finally to the pop oriented like “Cherry Candy 1.” What I find most interesting about this album though is the restraint. The music always feels like it’s pushing towards vaudeville and burlesque stage music, but it never quite makes it there. It’s a recurring undertone throughout the music, and frankly, it’s that undertone coupled with the restraint from going full on that really makes this an interesting album. I could see Purgatory/ Paradise interesting fans of Tom Waits to fans of the Pixies for different reasons.

Purgatory/ Paradise comes as a two disc set housed in a thick gatefold cover. You can pick up your vinyl copy from or from your local record retailer.



Throwing Muses at Innocent Words

In the fall of 2013, seminal indie rock band Throwing Muses broke a 10-year hiatus – although to be honest it wasn’t much of a hiatus for front woman Kristin Hersh who continued to releases masterful solo albums and guitar-driven punk rock with her other band 50 Foot Wave. But I digress. Throwing Muses return with the 32-track masterpiece ‘Purgatory/Paradise.’

In typical Hersh and band fashion, the Muses gave back to their fans with the return album offering up a gorgeous hardback book full of lyrics, short essays and stories by Hersh about each song, and exclusive photographs and artwork. In addition you got a download code for these exclusives:

~ A commentary track featuring Kristin Hersh and David Narcizo
~ An instrumental version of the full album
~ Prepackaged mp3 and lossless versions of every track with embedded metadata, artwork and lyrics.

Taking it a step further, thanks to the fine folks of Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records, ‘Purgatory/Paradise’ is now out on vinyl. True, the 2-LP gatefold vinyl version doesn’t offer up the amenities which the original release did, but hearing ‘Purgatory/Paradise,’ one of the bands best releases in their nearly 30-year career, is priceless.

As an album, ‘Purgatory/Paradise,’ which takes its name from an intersection in Hersh’s Rhode Island hometown, is an exquisite collection of music from one of music’s finest songwriters, not to mention fellow Muses drummer David Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges put in some of their finest work to date.

Hovering around the two to three minute mark, the songs are short bursts, which culminate into one cohesive album. The tracks, much like Hersh herself, are authentic, unrelenting and organic. At 32 songs, you could easily try to break this album down into rock songs and acoustic songs, but after listening to it, that task is virtually impossible. The songs have both elements mixed in. There’s even hints at a little blues and retro pop fused in. The tracks “Opiates;” “Sunray Venus;” “Milan;” and “Speedbath” are forceful rockers which ebb and flow between the other tracks. The Muses are at their best and ballsiest when they turn it up and rock out. Case in point, the two best songs on the album – “Slippershell” and “Sleepwalking 1.”

Hersh, Narcizo and Georges put in a lot of hard work and it pays off. The trio play flawlessly on ‘Purgatory/Paradise’ while, once again bucking the conventional in favor of real rock & roll.


Throwing Muses at Raised by Gypsies

At first, I was hesitant as to whether or not I wanted to review this cassette without the book that was released with it.   Let me jump back in time about a year, as this was released as a CD or digital or whatever in November of last year.   My plan was to get the CD/book combo for Christmas or my birthday and yet somehow that never materialized.   Here we are a year later and I still don’t have the book, sure, but I also don’t have any regrets about not getting the CD because now I have the cassette, which is how I feel Throwing Muses should be heard.

I love Throwing Muses because they were such an essential part of my musical upbringing, as were their sort of spin off bands like The Breeders and Belly.    And it’s funny because it took me some time after the fact to realize that all of these bands were related because back in the 1990’s I never really thought of bands as much about sharing members and just as their own little entities.    So to put this all together in the early ’00’s as I did was just like wow… like when I started putting together the pieces of Mother Love Bone, you know?

Throwing Muses will remain one of my biggest influences as a fan of music.   I tend to complain about the balance in music between male and female bands as there are all these dudes for me to compare music with when growing up but yet not as many noted women.   Even somebody like Veruca Salt doesn’t seem as big as maybe 90% of the male fronted bands I could site as comparisons when looking back, but Throwing Muses is just one of those defining bands.

Words may not ever be able to accurately portray how much Throwing Muses means to me as a band and piece of my childhood but these new songs are just excellent and I’m glad that they found their way to cassette because that’s just always how I will prefer to listen to Throwing Muses.   Kristin Hersh will forever remain one of my personal heroes and this music should not be missed on cassette.    Expect a book review eventually as well.


Throwing Muses at See Sound

If ever an album was appropriate to its band’s name it’s this, muses thrown out over 32 tracks , traversing their very own “Inferno”.

There are many short tracks with fully formed pin-sharp alt rock like Morning Birds 1 (with it’s fantastic and fearsome opening minute it has an urgency that gives no time for explanation, the second half is more indie pop, the title as with most sounds like the title given to abstract art, they may or may not help understanding of the songs). The beautiful cover art also suggests an interest in, and influence of, abstraction. This is a band flexing their muscles, showing that they can exist at the plateaux of their indie peak with little need to explain, this is muscular Pop. Sunray Venus, for example, sprawls because it can, it has many facets. Rather than be to in debt to a jewellers design, some songs are imperfect crystals as nature intended but none the less beautiful for it. It’s something like the aural equivalent of an art exhibition, minor sketches follow large canvasses, the short fragments show the creative process and allow an idea not to be lost. Perhaps they show the creative crossroads at which an idea is discarded or makes it’s way to use in a full length song.

The many short tracks may prompt skipping in the casual listener but luckily there are a multitude of 3 minute plus gems to keep everyone happy. There is something cinematic about the flow of the tracks, short or long they seem to act like scenes, driving a narrative unknown to the listener. Sunray Venus is the first huge track, chugging beat, Cure semi-acoustic guitar and a scalpel sharp vocal. Freesia is dark Country Rock, riding out of the dust storm on a rough picked twang, disappearing off again into a heat haze. Morning Birds 2 is shortish and most like an old 80 s college indie, taking a step further with a Verve style string section. Lazy eye is exceptional – a shadowy drama lead in by a shimmering guitar, the lead vocal and vocal harmonies on the chorus taking flight.

When they rock they are imperious – look no further than the dark streets of Milan, with it’s acoustic verse and electric pre chorus riff, before it soars in said chorus. There’s a certain timelessness overall, this is an album that deserves a place in any collection of melodic alternative rock from the lates 60’s to now. It certifies that Throwing Muses are every bit as good as R.E.M. or the Pixies when they can be bothered.


Throwing Muses at Big Takeover

A whole year after its initial release as book and CD, Throwing Muses’ epic ninth studio album finally sees a proper vinyl release.

While not as extensively packaged as the CD, this LP version of Purgatory/Paradiseserves as an exquisite companion to it for those who prefer their music on 12” plastic rather than compact discs. Musically, it’s a monumental work of art.Kristin Hersh’s sandpaper-y sweet vocals unfold visceral memories of betrayal and aggravation, perfectly complimenting her sneering guitar tone while bassist Bernard Georges and drummer David Narcizo remain obstructively complimentary, allowing her songs the necessary room to breathe. Minute-long tracks carry the captivating quality of the longer compositions, bending time so that their short length goes completely unnoticed. But, you know this already because you bought it when it came out last year, right?

The multiple layers of Purgatory/Paradise demand multiple listens in multiple formats – it’s just that massive. Experience it on vinyl and hear all the passionate, anguished beauty of Throwing Muses in a different light.


Throwing Muses at Buzz Magazine

One of the leading female-fronted indie bands of the 80s and 90s, Throwing Muses continue to grow from strength to strength with every release. The 2003 reunion of the band saw Kristin Hersh collaborate once more with stepsister and ex-Breeders front woman Tanya Donnelly – a match made in pitch perfect paradise. Modern-day poet Hersh yet again caresses your soul with her unique blend of melancholic yet impassioned harmonies. You won’t hear another band like this all year, perhaps all decade.


Throwing Muses, Hobbes Fanclub, Joanna Gruesome, Lunchbox, Fishboy, Primitives at Tuning Into the Obscure

The Hobbes Fanclub – Up At Lagrange – Shelflife Records – LP/CD

Hazy and dreamy guitars and vocals gives this album a sort of hot, hazy and lazy summer feel, which for me is just perfect. It’s refreshing and relaxing at the same time, without compromising on songwriting or quality.  It definitely fits in with Shelflife’s vast catalog of sound, and this album delivers nothing short of perfect.  Fans of the Chills, The Ropes and even those who’ve been digging some of the more recent M83 singles will enjoy this album.  Sweet stuff! (4.8 out of 5)

Lunchbox – Lunchbox Loves You – Jigsaw Records – CD

Jangle, pop rock, indie, psyche, dream pop and a hint of garage make this album so delicious that I want a second helping. This album is quite sublime without losing any potency lyrically.  It’s hazy and dreamy at times but knows where to pack its punches.  It reminds me a bit of the September Girls with hints of the Vaselines, Veruca Salt and others.  The love here is mutual, Lunchbox! Keep on rocking!  (4.7 out of 5)

Fishboy – An Elephant – Yofishboy – LP + Graphic Novel

This indie punk lo-fi pop outfit returns with a soundtrack to their graphic novel that follows the ghost of Topsy the Elephant in her quest for vengeance for being electrocuted by Thomas Edison in 1903. And if you’ve seen that video footage from that time period, I think you’d find yourself joining Topsy’s quest.  This album rocks!  Life, death, and everything afterward makes this hard to resist, especially when it sounds so cheery.  It’s been a while I’ve come across a themed record like this where I dare to call it a rock opera of sorts.  Awesome!  (5 out of 5)

The Primatives – Spin-O-Rama – Elefant Records – CD

Their first album of new material in almost 22 years, the band creates some real indie-pop jewels. I’d say it likens closely to their early material from the mid 80s, picking up right where they left off.  It’s so catchy, sparkling and sweet without sacrificing its rock edge, like a more jangle-new wave Vaselines.  Male and female vocals make this extra dreamy. I can totally see why this band has been a major influence for so many bands/artists over the years.  The writing and composing are top notch and highly addictive. Lovely! (4.9 out of 5)

Joanna Gruesome / Trust Fund – Split 12” – HHBTM – 12”

Three tracks per band, starting off with Joanna Gruesome’s brand of jangle-pop-rock-folk that’s sure to please fans of just about any of the bands reviews above in this post. This is my first introduction to the band and I am hooked badly and need another fix. These three tracks are astonishingly engaging and staggeringly powerful.  Flip things over with Trust Fund and while the genre mixture stays somewhat similar, the flavor and the drive changes up a little bit.  It’s a great intro to the band for those who are not familiar with them and it is safe to say that if you liked Joanna Gruesome, you’re gonna love this!  Flawless split EP from start to finish.  (4.9 out of 5)

Throwing Muses – Purgatory / Paradise – HHBTM – LP

One of the most influential groups returns with a double LP (the CD came out in 2013 and the vinyl is brand spankin’ new!) and they pack a punch as you might expect. Everything about this album is powerful, beautiful and even haunting at times.  The magic is unmatchable.  Despite the absence of some of the founding members, nothing is lost here.  And the vocals are to die for. Seriously!  This is well worth having on either CD or vinyl – as long as you get a copy!  (5 out of 5)


Throwing Muses at BEAT

Since forming in Rhode Island in 1980-whatever Throwing Muses have been alt rock royalty and their uncompromising frontwoman/leader Kristin Hersh has been an indie rock legend setting the world to rights ever since.
It’s almost impossible (and probably kind of offensive) to condence Hersh and Throwing Muses complicated history into a brief introductory paragraph. That said, in a nutshell, it goes something like…

At 16 Kristin was involved in a car accident that dramatically changed how she hears music (she describes it as being like ‘a kind of possession’), she formed Throwing Muses (originally Kristen Hersh and the Muses) with her step-sister Tanya Donnelly, they (along with the rest of the band Elaine Adamedes and drummer Becca Blumen who were later replaced by Leslie Langston and David Narcizo) released their first EP in 1984, subsequently signed to 4AD records and toured with their friends the Pixies.
Kristin has (pretty openly and publicly) dealt with at different times being diagnosed with schizophrenia and later bipolar disorder. You can read about some of this in Kristin’s book Rat Girl, which is essential reading, kind of like the alt rock version of Ghost World or a way gnarlier Lena Dunham. The Muses have had a rocky time negotiating their fierce uncompromising creativety within the music business, at times down right rebelling against their former long-time label Warner and according to Hersh being left pretty much flat broke.

Throwing Muses have just been out on the road proving they’re still a killer force live and have finally released an epic new album Purgatory/Paradise, a 32-track record accompanied by a 64 page book of essays. As far as I’m concerned Throwing Muses is Kristin Hersh and Kristin Hersh is Throwing Muses, so when the Muses came to town I went to have a chat with her about their latest record and being shitty…

Click through for the interview.


Throwing Muses at Drowned in Sound

We spoke to Throwing Muses, Fifty Foot Wave and solo artist Kristin Hersh across the ether of the internet last week. Having just arrived home in New Orleans, she was fresh from a series of UK shows which saw the Throwing Muses trinity (Hersh, Tanya Donnelly, Dave Narcizo) reunited and touring Purgatory/Paradise. Released late last year, this was their first new studio album in 10 years: both a wonderful, skittering, haze of the Muses fuzzy-inspirational music and a flat-out beautiful object as well, with an accompanying book of words from Hersh and illustrations from Narcizo.

Despite the limitations of the email interview format, a series of call-and-response communications that can sometimes frustrate, Hersh’s responses came through in the same engaged, lucid and upfront voice that can be heard in her highly entertaining twitter feed, a fascinating contrast to the oblique mystery of her lyrics. Although battling jetlag (both her own and her iPad’s at one point), perhaps the common thread here is the honesty and lack-of-rockist-bullshit that characterises her music and the thoughtful answers which she nevertheless was able to provide.

Click through to read the interview.