Tuesday, October 11, 2011

throwing muses

Throwing Muses helped to define Alternative with the folk punk mood swings of their dark, dense, and dreamy untitled debut. Step-sisters Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly formed the band in Newport, Rhode Island while in high school, eventually bringing in David Narcizo and Leslie Langston. After their self-released demo tape 'The Doghouse Cassette' caught the attention of Ivo Watts-Russell, they became the first American band to be signed by 4AD Records. Gil Norton (who had worked with China Crisis and the Triffids) produced the album at Fort Apache Studios in Boston. The music was unlike anything that had come before with its complex melodic and rhythmic changes, intimate and intense adolescent angst, and Kristin Hersh's hypnotic and haunted vibrato. Hersh says her bi-polar disorder would "force" songs upon her: "We were nineteen at the time. I was pregnant with Dylan. It's weird for me, because my voice was 'her' voice. I literally turned into this evil other person, and I was so terrified of it - 'I can't let her in to where the baby is!' - and you can hear that. But, every now and then, 'I'd' come back. I didn't listen to it for years, but now I hear it and it's fine. I was screaming in tune, I was learning my craft. I can turn 'it' on now and feel great strength, but then it was very difficult." After I saw the Muses play live during my first year of college, I was so struck by their performance that I rushed out to get this as an import; and it completely changed my musical landscape. The critical acclaim the album received led to a major label deal with Sire Records.




The frenetic 'Call Me' starts the album off with violent, vibrant velocity.

"Read the stop signs
I can't love nothing
Make, kill
You wake up and it's not morning
I can't sleep, I loved you once
I loved so much
There's a shape on the horizon
As we're picked off one by one
Something's gone
Something's over"

The hypnotic 'Green' was the only song on the album written by Tanya Donelly.

"You built a city in my head
Then there were candles
And a phoenix burned my bed
These are subwords
These are air"

The cathartic caterwaul of 'Hate My Way' makes sudden changes in key and tempo that add to its unnerving beauty.

"I make you into a song
I can't rise above the church
I'm caught in a jungle
Vines tangle my hands
I'm always so hot and it's hot in here
I say it's all right
My pillow screams too
But so does my kitchen
And water
And my shoes
And the road
I have a gun in my head
I'm invisible
I can't find the ice
A slug
I'm TV
I hate"

'Rabbits Dying' wraps a rollicking rockabilly groove and with acoustic reflections of consequences.

"Follow me home
To a lean-to, to a lean-to, to a lean-to
I don't have legs no more
I know it
He's watching time
He's watching, marching to his end
He knows time, he sees it"

'Stand Up' has a foreboding groove.

"And a night
Frightening dark and
It was light
A big tree branches and
I was dancing
I'm straining
My broken neck and
Walking fast
Look at my glasses then
Look at her shoes"

'Soul Soldier' describes love as a battlefield.

"In love, we couldn't breathe
In love, they couldn't breathe the word
He crawls along the battlefields
The sky spitting shells
That heart is on the ground
Spits in his face
The cut
That kills the knife
Forcing it
'Til it breaks
Forces our heart
Can't replace
Forces a heartbreak"

'Throwing Muses'
full album

All songs written by Kristin Hersh except "Green" written by Tanya Donelly

"Call Me" – 3:59
"Green" – 3:04
"Hate My Way" – 4:06
"Vicky's Box" – 5:09
"Rabbits Dying" – 3:49
"America (She Can't Say No)" – 2:47
"Fear" – 2:45
"Stand Up" – 2:56
"Soul Soldier" – 5:10
"Delicate Cutters" – 3:53

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