Throwing Muses: C-o-D

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There is maybe some alternate world where Kristin Hersh ended up dead or locked up at the end of the 80s, and is now an absolutely huge CULT LEGEND, the Sylvia Plath of pop. As it is she's one of the few mentally ill rock stars who resisted glamourisation, and now potters around and makes records which end up at No.18 on people's end of year lists.

Anyway, I bought House Tornado in the HMV sale, because I'd enjoyed it lots at 17, and I wasnt expecting to enjoy it again, and I do. So - classic, or dud?

Tom, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I've always gotten into isolated tracks by the band, rarely the whole album, but they were indeed a unique little combo for a while,, I vote CLASSIC.

Best track: "Fish" off the LONELY IS AN EYESORE 4AD compilation (the title of the album is a lyrical swipe from said tune as well).

alex in nyc, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

No-brainer classic. First two and last two Muses records are spectacular. Records between are merely good to average. (Being anti- Donelly, I'm in the minority about the Hunkpapa through The Real Ramona.)

As far as Hersh herself is considered, I haven't really liked much after Hips and Makers. She remains a unique lyricist, but the music seems so tame and normal in comparison. I'd hate to suggest -- a la Erica Jong -- that the decline is a result of positive lifestyle developments. You have to admit she isn't as fiery or great as she once was.

As far as Hersh the mother is considered, I'm normally irritated by couples who opt to overpopulate the planet with a big litter of offspring. Hersh is an exception to this -- the more of her genes floating around the better.

Had she kicked it by the end of the '80s, I agree she'd be quite the cult. Probably just above the level of Mary Margaret O'Hara (who is still alive, actually).

"Mexican Women" off House Tornado still spooks me. The line about running over the hill to tear off skin and eat it up comes to mind.

Andy, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I'd have to agree with Andy on the 1st two / last two album assessment, with _Limbo_ being my personal favorite of the whole bunch. (The recent reissue of the 1st album w/ the demo tape stuff is also quite good.) (Still need to find a copy of _House Tornado_ with _The Fat Skier_ attached.)

I used to whole-heartedly adore _Hips & Makers_, but soon found it to be a bit too samey. The same with _Strange Angels_ - both albums have amazing songs, though. It just seems that there's always that song (or two of those songs) that sabotage the pacing. _Sky Motel_ sounds like a return to her Throwing Muses days, but is a bit lackluster (again, with some gems in the rough). Those In The Know say that _Sunny Border Blue_ is her best yet. But they always say that.

David Raposa, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't think I'll ever like this badn as much as Certain People I Know do, but I do like The Real Ramona an extraordinary amount. (Which may just go to show that I'll never like the band the way other people do.)

the pinefox, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

No, pinefox, you're right, uh, on the money. I think The Real Ramona is really where it all came together for the Muses, where they were able to finally fuse their herky-jerky (or jagged, to use a good ol' rock critic term) style with really solid songwriting and...gasp!...melody. To this day, The Real Ramona alone is enough to give them classic status, even with their decided mis-steps, like Red Heaven and Hunkpapa.

I still like the first album just fine, though they drifted on material between that album and Ramona. For the later material, I like Limbo okay, but I much prefer University, which is chilling and slinky at the same time. (I'm convinced that after the disastrously ugly Red Heaven, Hersh took some time to learn restraint again, with the great Hips and Makes album, and then took those lessons back to the band format for University.) So. Classic.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic x 10, especially the Fat Skier-era Muses.

'Ramona' also marked the last Muses lp with Tanya Donelly...

Jason, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

TM = Ut for lightweights

mark s, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Agree with comments abour Real Ramona - melody, passion and to hell with the herky-jerky time changes. A Classic.

Don't agree about Red Heaven - side one, possibly best TM ever. Will expand tomorrow.

Another classic - "University" - contains best TM track "Bright yellow gun". That drumming!

Duds - Hunkpapa, Fat Skier, most of debut, side 2 of House Tornado.

Dr. C, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Funny band, this, actually. Some people - intelligent people, and all that - LOVE them. And there's nothing about them that I really dislike. I think I can see some of what their appeal might be - the kooky-woman-poet thing that had Stevie T reciting Emily Dickinson to them doesn't much appeal to me, but must appeal to some. But apart from that record, I find what I've heard rather average rock music. Neither Classic Nor Dud (but Throwing Muses)? I'd quite like to hear why this relatively ignorant view is 'wrong'.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 3 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Tom, you got me into them way back when and I thank you for it even now. I still contend that 'The Real Ramona'is their peak achievement but hey, I like Belly too so what do I know?

Guy Flower, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh yes ... TM = Classic, of course!

Guy Flower, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Bizarrely enough, I was also going to ask this question today, as I've been wondering why no one had really brought them up in the 9 months ILM's been going.

Anyhow, absolute classic. Probably my favourite band ever. House Tornado and The Real Ramona are the peaks but I also love the first album, Fat Skier and Chains Changed unreservedly. I reckon they had a bit of a slump after Tanya left, as one of their main attractions for me was the interplay between the two guitars and voices, but University is still a fine album. Hunkpapa is the only serious misstep, with all its filler and mistaken attempts at going pop. Hips and Makers is also great but the last couple of Hersh solo albums have been a bit weak.

Richard Tunnicliffe, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"Red Heaven" sounds like Tanya has just walked out mid-way through a pre-recording warm-up, and Kristen has said "OK, let's do the album without her -I'll turn up my guitar and David, you've got to hit the drums like fury". The opening trio "Furious", "Firepile" and "Dio" are damn near perfect, and Kristen even manages to rope in Bob Mould, who's working in a nearby studio, for backing vocals.

It's not as *finished* as The Real Ramona or University, but probably the one I'd say best defines what TM are *about*. It's a type of album I like - sort of like a Scooby album, but not quite. Can't think of a neat way to describe it, but these albums are usually seen as a move in a different direction, often a slightly wrong move (not a total disaster though), and polarise opinion like crazy. They're the kind of album I seek out. Other examples : "Brotherhood" , "Monster", "Punch the Clock".

Dr. C, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

So classic it's just not even a debatable issue in my mind.

I'd put them on a classic/sacred cow status equal to that of "The Smiths" (not the Smiths the band necessarily, but The Smiths, the Legend). In fact, for many of the same reasons-

First off, stunning and original guitarwork and musicianship (the hypnotic drums, especially the use of rolls for texture has only ever been matched by Echo & the Bunnymen)

Second, the interplay between two very powerful yet opposed figures (Ver Muses, however, managed to hold fast to their musical ideals even after the figures parted, as evidenced by the quality of the solo work)

Third, because no one has ever managed to quite penetrate and articulate the exact dimensions of the adolescent female mind in quite the same way. ("Delicate Cutters") In fact, probably *all* of the female experience- motherhood, madness, marriage, adulthood- without ever being cloyingly sentimental or insipid, or verving into the other extreme of being overly feminazi. Hersch simply *is* female, and she expresses it perfectly, not as an afterthought or a gimmick.

Standouts for me are:

The self titled album. I can no longer actually listen to this album, because it expressed and encapsulated so perfectly a time in my life that I would rather forget. It's not a fault of the album that I can no longer listen to it, but rather shows the POWER of it.

The Real Ramona. The two sisters at their most balanced, their most equal in power and songwriting ability, and of course, the band could not survive in that form. Also the most pop, and probably the most easily listenable of the albums.

Hips and Makers. Hersch wandering around the big, empty, spooky house of finally being a proper grown-up and wondering what to do with all the space. Never did anything so sparse sound so lush.

masonic boom, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Gotto go with the Doctor, 'Red Heaven' is pretty good, so a bit of a Scooby Doo album. Although I like 'The Real Ramona' and just am not able to buy the first album (maybe because T.M are filed past the Dance section in my favourite recordshops ;). Pretty good live too, Tanya D. not an irritating factor, at all.

Omar, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Classic, especially Real Ramona, which features one of my favourite singles of all time - Not too soon, a joyous mess of a song

cabbage, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I loved University and Hips and Makers when they came out but then filed them away never to be listened to again after about a year...but I do remember enjoying them at the time. I actually saw them live at Reading once...which was nice. In answer...I'm not sure but I think I'll listen to then tonight, so thanks for bringing that back to my attention.

Add, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Masonic Boom is quite eloquent above - but I think her differentiation between the Smiths and "The Smiths" is, in this context, bogus. The question is: is the band good? - or: how much do you like this band and why? - not: let's discuss the mythology that's grown up around the band (interesting though that might be).

The distinction I make here also has a slightly bogus look. I haven't expressed it too well. But I suppose my point is: there is no difference, really - at least *in this particular context* - between the Smiths (the great pop group who changed so many of our lives) and "The Smiths" ("the great pop group who changed so many of our lives").

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

For a few years in the early 90s Throwing Muses were my favourite band in the world. I think they were the first band to affect me in *physical* way - like a punch to the stomach. I think roundabout the same time I was reading Camille Paglia, and they made her proselytising of clinical pagan daemonic art seem beautiful and true (Paglia on Emily Dickinson could almost be a great lost freeform Muses review - right down to the Amherst connection). 'Hate My Way' is the peak, probably: majestic in its crippled, stuttering prowl. But as an album, House Tornado is difficult to beat. Even the title is a perfect distillation of the *uncanny* (all that is un-homely, coming home to roost - in the same way that the group blasted open notions of the domestic, folk or country with blasts of noise, weird martial rhythms, the madwoman in the attic). It's an incredible contraption made from wood, electricity and the broken bones of the heart. I'm going to listen to it again, right now.

stevie t, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

No, Pinefox, my classification of The Smiths (the band) sv. The Smiths (the Legend) is not bogus. Throwing Muses, do, however, compare to both of them.

The Smiths (the band) = either "they saved my angsty teenage life" or "miserable whinging git Morrosey and his Elvis-ripping off henchmen" while The Smiths (the legend) = greatest British band since the Beatles, etc. etc. etc. and all the dissecting of the legend and the personalitys that shaped it and so on.

I was comparing TM to the legend, in terms of their status as giants of music.

masonic boom, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I still think the distinction is bogus. People who think of the Smiths as the greatest British band since the Beatles don't think of that as "legend" - it's simply their honest opinion on the Smiths.

Did I say "their"?

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Stevie: RIGHT NOW?

What you say above is eloquent and admirable. I wonder if one day you will be able to convince me of it. And I wonder what it would take.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

'Ang on, 'ang on. 'Broken bones of the heart'?

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I refer, of course, to "the heart" the legend, rather than the heart, the cardio-vascular organ.

stevie t, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link


I "heart" you, Stevie.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Phew - there I was worrying that I'd have to waste vital Henman vs Federer time on this thread, scrambling around for the right phrases and so forth and Stevie T goes and articulates almost *precisely* what I loved about Throwing Muses in the period 1989-91.

The physical - yes. "House Tornado" - yes (it made no sense to me and I ignored the tape for weeks; it made sense somewhere near the perimeter of an MoD firing range on Formby beach, late summer '89, wind whipping sand into my headphones).

The most excited I've ever been at a gig - Muses, Trent Poly, Feb '91. The most excited I've ever been about a forthcoming release - "The Real Ramona", Feb '91. The most disappointed I've ever been by an eagerly-awaited release - "Red Heaven", Aug '92.

Right - come on, Roger...

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Bloody hell, Mike! He's MURDERING him this set!!

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Other thing: I respect greatly your and Stevie's enthusiasm for the band. I like it more (as you can imagine) than your enthusiasm for All Saints (not that it's any of my business what you want to listen to on the bus). BUT I still don't feel that what is great about the band has been articulated. Good things have been said, even if they were about the broken bones of the legendary "heart" (hey - Only Connect to Lou Reed!). It's like the Sutherlands never happened. (I blame Alan Sunderland, as you know; but that's another [David] storey). BUT no, sorry, what you lads are saying about the band doesn't quite square with the memory of them that I have. Which is, um, metallic guitar sounds (but not much exciting guitar playing, save on the aforementioned classic LP that, oops, you don't like) - loping drums - atonal-type vocal style - cut-up-type lyrics - that kind of thing.

It must seem unreasonable of me to nitpick away at it like this. I'm not trying to say they're a Dud. I just don't quite see the Classic bit, either, on the whole.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I should probably explain why I have such a distaste for Red Heaven (rather than just calling it a disaster). As others have pointed out, it rocks, and it rocks really hard. From that perspective, it does it really well, and I have no complaints with that. Following hot on the heels of The Real Ramona, though, it couldn't help but be a disappointment. The band had shown that they were capable of some really unique songwriting and playing, and that they didn't have to sacrifice melody. By cranking the amps up so high on Red Heaven, they sounded like they were trying to prove something...notably that they still had energy after Donnelly left. I didn't buy it for one second, especially because I found the songwriting on Red Heaven extremely dull and simple. I should also mention that I absolutely lurved Bob Mould at the time, and thought he was the best guitarist around at the time. Even that wasn't enough to make me like "Dio". In an alternate plane where the Muses hadn't just released the most perfect album of their career, Red Heaven may have been okay, but in context it was a bitter disappointment. To me, anyhow.

Sean Carruthers, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I've just reread Stevie T's marvellous paean above for the umpteenth time, and, no, I still don't see it, I mean, hear it. Rock Music. You make it sound pretty interesting.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

bob mould's contribution to red heaven is entirely forgettable, sounds like he woke up and stumbled into the recording session but 'red heaven' has several wonderful songs especially 'pearl'. my faves are 'real ramona' and the first record, i don't much like fat skier or the last two which sounded a bit too polished and distant. hips and makers is also amazing, especially 'me and my charms' and 'a loon' which are truly breathtaking. i always get annoyed at people proclaiming sleater-kinney some sort of groundbreaking act of girls with guitars making powerful music when kristin and tanya were doing it years before them. i haven't gotten any of the last three solo records but i do like that appalachian folk thing she released only through the internet.

keith, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Who's the wise-ass up there dropping Ut into this conversation? Mark? Bypass the Raincoats entirely, why don't you? And not one mention of Yoko Ono?

"Not Too Soon" sounds totally out of place on _The Real Ramona_. It sticks out like a polished diamond in a pile of tarnished silver dollars. And it's Tanya's best TM offering, by a wide country hectare.

And it's funny that someone (Sean) thinks that _Hips & Makers_ is a back-to-basics move. I felt the same way, but I think that _University_ was actually recorded BEFORE _Hips & Makers_. I forget where I heard that, but I used that information (& that theory) as the foundation for my breathless praise of _Limbo_ on my site.

David Raposa, Wednesday, 4 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

But Pinefox, I thought you were already convinced that it was pretty much impossible to describe WHY you like something in any way that makes any sense to others. I guess this applies to TM as much as anyone.

I can't remember the thread where this discussion took place.

Dr. C, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Dr C: yes. It is always difficult (at best) to convince anyone of anything (unless, I suppose, they want to be convinced), and it is difficult to explain why you like sth, esp. if the answer keeps coming back 'Why?'. So in general, I agree with you (about my own inconsistency).

BUT all I was really looking for from our Scouse friends was a (favourable) description which was a little bit 'closer to the music'. Stevie's stuff about Camille Paglia is great - but it's great cos Stevie is great, not (I submit) because TH are great (and CERTAINLY not cos Camille Paglia is great; heaven forfend).

I appreciate that the desire for a description which is 'closer to the music' might be another chimera - another senseless request which our Scouse friends will find it impossible to fulfil. At the end of the day (Clive), I have a feeling that they are talking as much about themselves as about TM - who (I suspect) were very important to them at a certain time in their lives and have thus made a kind of emotional imprint that they can't really explain. That is not a criticism - it might be the best reason for loving a bit of pop music (I think it's my usual reason). It's just that it's not very 'transferrable'. I can appreciate that TM meant something to little Stevie T when he was a wee boy writing vast dissertations for Christopher Bigsby - but I can't hear that in their records. (Or can I?)

the pinefox, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Pinefox, at the risk of debating the Smiths off-topic on the far superior TM's thread...

You have clearly forgotten the early 90s, when every band from Suede to Blur was described as "The Best British Band Since The Smiths". That's legendeering on a scale with the B**tles.

Back on TM again, yesterday afternoon at the HMV mega-sale, I actually went and bought a copy of House Tornado and Fat Skiier on CD to replace vinyl back in storage. Damn ILM for influencing my record buying habits!!! Second time this week!

masonic boom, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

>>> You have clearly forgotten the early 90s, when every band from Suede to Blur was described as "The Best British Band Since The Smiths". That's legendeering on a scale with the B**tles.

Wrong again.

I have not forgotten the early 90s. At least, not totally. I wish I could remember them a little more vividly than I do - but really, that's another thread entirely.

Your argument now seems to be that because some media people in the early 90s implied that the Smiths were a great band, they're not really a great band - that was just all Legend stuff. Whereas (you asserted above) talking about 'That Miserable Git Morrissey' is not Legend-peddling, but is simply the rough, unvarnished Truth.

From my POV (which as ever is not anyone else's POV), the Smiths are perhaps the greatest British band after the Beatles. Put it another way: they are perhaps the most important band to me ever. This is not much to do with constructing Legends; it's just the way I feel about this band. (I don't ask anyone else to share this feeling.)

I fear that what this 'debate' comes down to is that you don't like the Smiths much, and I do. Fear not, I have no desire to make you like them more.

the pinefox, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Actually I like this distinction. The Beatles: nice listen to White Album on a sunday afternoon. "The Beatles": irritating-as-fuck seperate John-Paul-George-Ringo Mojo covers, going over the same bloody story again and again.

Omar, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

You are actually wrong, I love the Smiths.

But that does not stop them from having a "Legend" which has far overtaken either their music or their lasting influence. You are just unable to see them because your devotion outweighs your rationality.

masonic boom, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I genuinely don't understand why people can't separate the music from the 'legend'. No doubt someone will argue that the music and the legend are in fact one and the same, but I'd disagree. My enjoyment of The Beatles isn't in any way altered by the fact that Mojo and Uncut both ran wank-pieces on them last month, nor would it change if no-one wrote about them ever again. I have the records, that's all that matters. I also don't see how the 'best band ever' syndrome makes any difference. They obviously weren't, and it's pointless to spend time trying to prove or disprove something as irrelevant as this. I guess it may make other bands ape the styles of the 'best bands ever according to legend' , but that doesn't make them any good, or make me like them.

If some people/lots of people/everyone except me/no-one thinks a particular artist is the best ever it couldn't possibly change the way that I think by itself. (However,weight of opinion might suggest that I have another listen and I COULD have been wrong all along : "Loveless". That's different.)

Dr. C, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Dr C: actually I do think Beatles = best band ever. (Have said this before.)

Masonic Boom: disappointed by your resort to cheap abuse. I maintain that you are mistaken and your distinction is, in this instance, utterly BOGUS. BUT you were right about one thing earlier: this is the Muses thread and we ought to be discussing them.

the pinefox, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

But what does 'best band ever' MEAN?

Dr. C, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Dr C: I don't know - or, if I do 'know', I don't really want to get into contentious territory and tangled up in definitions. I'm no great Beatles apologist, I own none of their records, and I hardly ever listen to them. I still think they're the best pop group ever. But other people on ILM (eg Nick D) know far more about them (and probably don't think they're best band ever?). Don't mind discussing this further - but perhaps (again) it should be kept off Throwing Muses thread?

Totally sublime, forgive-them-anything-for-that Throwing Muses moment which Scouse worshippers at shrine of Hersh have not mentioned (perhaps don't like?): TWO STEP.

the pinefox, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Don't have much to say except C L A S S I C.

Melissa W, Friday, 13 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Not much to say - but you said it with such idiosyncratic panache.

the pinefox, Saturday, 14 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I'm just listening to Red Heaven for the first time in years... And I couldn't resist responding to a couple of posts:

Sean Carruthers - Yes it rocks, but thats not its why it holds its own. Yes, maybe they did have something to prove and in my mind they did. The Real Ramona was a great album, but a follow-on would've been impossible. With Donelly onboard, it could've easily turned out to be little more than sugar-coated pop dross. Not that I dislike Donelly's post-Muses ventures, its just that I think another Ramona would've involved too many compromises. Tanya and Kristin were obviously going in different directions.

I agree with Dr C. - Red Heaven is a classic album. Its raw and fresh, like one of them just said "well its just me and you now, lets get down to it". Red Heaven really conveys a sense of rapport, especially Rosetta Stone. Kristin seems to hit upon something that transcends the 'bit'iness of some of their previous outings. To me, it appears as if she finally managed to give all her ambivalence a face of its own. Red Heaven has a very rich character, indeed. If they were attempting to reinstate a more personal and intimate sense of identity, then I think they certainly achieved it.

Given the choice between:-

a) a "chilling and slinky" male fantasy involving Kristin Hersh, ice cream and a black negligee.


b) the opportunity to ride along with someone blowing out the cobwebs during a transitional phase in their life.

... I would take the latter ;)

Nat, Saturday, 1 February 2003 14:47 (sixteen years ago) link

... The production is spot on, too :D

Nat, Saturday, 1 February 2003 15:00 (sixteen years ago) link

This thread pops up right as we got the "Reunion Record" in the post, along with the new solo acoustic thing which will be released on the same day. I like the reunion record, good to hear Kristin and Tanya doing those crazy harmonies again. I'm not sold on the acoustic stuff, though. More thoughts later when I've listened to the record more...

kate, Saturday, 1 February 2003 15:02 (sixteen years ago) link

all i've heard is the "univerity" album; and i liked it, but not nearly as much as the rest of you folks seem to like the older releases (not a single full-on dud vote in the thread). am i just familiar with their dud album? should i start checking out the older material immediately?

dyson (dyson), Saturday, 1 February 2003 18:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Classic. They're not without moments that feel redundant (if not totally shticky if you don't know the "legend"), but the guitar-bass-drums save the day when Kristin's vocals become too strident.

I definitely wouldn't say that you're only familiar with the "dud album", Dyson. From what I've heard of her discography it sounds like Hersh started with her most apocalyptic (or grating, depending on your tastes) work and then gradually mellowed, while remaining off-kilter and "in touch with her emotions". I'd certainly give the older stuff a try, but it's pretty up in the air what you'll prefer. I'm not sure myself, but my girlfriend would vote for "The Real Ramona" as her fave.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 1 February 2003 18:56 (sixteen years ago) link

new album(s) are pretty great.

akm, Friday, 15 November 2013 21:39 (six years ago) link

Love the single.

the objections to Drake from non-REAL HIPHOP people (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 15 November 2013 22:17 (six years ago) link

On first listen, it's a great album surrounded by weaker material.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 15 November 2013 22:24 (six years ago) link

A few weeks ago, KH launched the record (sans other Muses, Bernard having broken his thumb) - fairly incredibly - at my local SE London bookshop, at about 12 hours' notice. Daniel Kitson (celebrated stand-up/storyteller and fellow Crystal Palace resident) was the first person in the world to own a copy. (I guess I was about the 12th!) She did another pop-up show at a north London bookshop the following night before a Rough Trade East appearance a few days later.

Michael Jones, Friday, 15 November 2013 23:28 (six years ago) link

<3 <3 <3

sleeve, Friday, 15 November 2013 23:31 (six years ago) link


nostormo, Friday, 15 November 2013 23:43 (six years ago) link

There are some incredible songs on the new album - just hidden in there...

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 28 November 2013 05:22 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

I have still not managed to make it through this album without getting distracted. If anyone wanted to do an edited version, I'd be very appreciative!

dlp9001, Monday, 30 March 2015 22:41 (four years ago) link

not sure what sort of "edited" you mean but a lot of these tracks originally appeared in one piece as kristin's solo _crooked_ demos

katherine, Monday, 30 March 2015 22:43 (four years ago) link

katherine, Monday, 30 March 2015 22:44 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

"morning birds" is so good

for sale: baby shoes, never worn your ass (katherine), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:29 (four years ago) link

there's no news (well, kristin is releasing a book, but no band news) but still

for sale: baby shoes, never worn your ass (katherine), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:32 (four years ago) link

thanks for that link above!

sleeve, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:34 (four years ago) link

University vs. Limbo is a poll I make in my mind from time to time. Both records kick so much ass.

rip van wanko, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 03:28 (four years ago) link

I'd pick Limbo, it just has this incredible swagger.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 21:59 (four years ago) link

six months pass...

University has quietly turned into one of my favorite '90s records. I don't even mind Hersh's wah-wah guitar.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:24 (three years ago) link

I like the wah! Yeah university is probably the muses record I reach for most often.

tylerw, Wednesday, 10 February 2016 00:48 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

Saw the Muses (Kristin Hersh, David Narcizo and Fred Abong) play a great set Saturday as part of the band's induction into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. From sweet hellos to a primal scream session in five seconds flat.

Jazzbo, Monday, 1 May 2017 13:32 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

Wish In A Doghouse was more widely available on cd, it's quite a package and if I knew about it years ago maybe I would have all their albums by now.

This band always seemed well stocked in music shops but they don't get nearly enough chat.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 11 August 2018 15:19 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Had a look in Fopp and there's only a damn compilation. Maybe the death knell for bands like this in psychical stores? I'll have to check HMV soon because I grudgingly use the internet shops when I remember there being piles of albums on the shelves.

One day several years ago I went to most of the music shops in Glasgow looking for Kate Bush albums and could hardly find anything. It must have been a freak occurrence.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 1 September 2018 17:23 (one year ago) link

I'll never stop regretting selling off my vinyl copies of The Fat Skier and House Tornado back when I was a stupid teen.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 1 September 2018 17:44 (one year ago) link

they're still cheap on Discogs, if that helps

sleeve, Saturday, 1 September 2018 17:56 (one year ago) link

Maybe, I haven't ever messed around with buying stuff ondiscos, but there's a bunch of vinyl stuff I'd like to find for an affordable price. I probably should try it out.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 1 September 2018 18:02 (one year ago) link

For the most part, I've had success on Discogs. But more recently, I've run into sellers that accept the order only to inform me a week (or more) later that they actually don't have the item. Refunds every time, but it just strikes me as odd that, of my last five orders on there (from completely different sellers), three have resulted in this scenario. Granted, it's not like I order that often; maybe once every four months or so. So, I don't know, maybe a fluke. Just seems weird.

Otherwise, yes: buy House Tornado! It's a wonderful album.

outside, you're never alone. (Austin), Saturday, 1 September 2018 19:56 (one year ago) link

True, I still listen to it fairly regularly. My interest in the Muses fell off after that as they moved in a more conventional rock direction.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Saturday, 1 September 2018 20:00 (one year ago) link

I have In A Doghouse which compiles a lot of the early stuff but I'm just seeing it for £25 on Amazon. Seems to be a bit cheaper on discogs.

Stevolende, Saturday, 1 September 2018 20:11 (one year ago) link

In a Doghouse is very highly recommended; the first album and the coinciding EP with a ton of extras.

outside, you're never alone. (Austin), Sunday, 2 September 2018 02:40 (one year ago) link

the two disc version with the early demos >>>>

boxedjoy, Sunday, 2 September 2018 19:06 (one year ago) link

Just scored In a Doghouse for 20 bux U.S.on ebay. I've given several of TM's lps a chance over the years but it's the earliest stuff that really resonates.

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Sunday, 2 September 2018 22:34 (one year ago) link

Glad i brought it up, it has some great stuff on it.

Wonder if the lps will see any further reissue?

& I have Kirsten's first book Paradoxical Undressing floating around the bedroom waiting to be read still.

Stevolende, Sunday, 2 September 2018 22:45 (one year ago) link

Yeah steveo thanks much. I hadnt really thought about them in prolly 20some years (i'm 53!). But was inspired by yr post to spring for that compilation. That book sounds intriguing also. I'm not anti-donnely but kristin is the genius in that band, period. For me anyway

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Sunday, 2 September 2018 23:12 (one year ago) link

the book is amazing

aloha darkness my old friend (katherine), Tuesday, 4 September 2018 07:49 (one year ago) link

Yes read it! Published as Rat Girl in the US. Kristin Hersh is as good a writer as she is a, uh, songwriter. Don't Suck, Don't Die is also great, about her friendship with Vic Chesnutt.

com rad erry red flag (f. hazel), Tuesday, 4 September 2018 14:53 (one year ago) link

I really enjoyed Rat Girl, the descriptions of her synesthesia were really interesting

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Tuesday, 4 September 2018 15:01 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

The mighty Chris O'Leary studies them in his new project:

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 18:07 (four months ago) link

did i ever tell u guys about meeting Kristin????
she was hands down the most gracious poet i've ever had the chance to meet
i went up to her so timidly at the end of one of her shows
she was just incredibly kind.

surm, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 18:13 (four months ago) link

(i'm sure i did tell u but it feels good to be able to brag about it again)

surm, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 18:16 (four months ago) link

wow, that article is nice deep dive, cheers Ned

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:37 (four months ago) link

yep great article, thanks for posting.

thomasintrouble, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:49 (four months ago) link

great images too!

boxedjoy, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 22:03 (four months ago) link

never heard those 1984 demos!

some of the only music so overwhelming that all forebrained attempts to reverse engineer how they arrived / performed the music fail. even now decades later, the technician always surrenders to how fucking amazing this music is

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 02:15 (four months ago) link

at least I could try to figure out the piano songs like 'walking in the dark', but I remember trying to figure out 'fish' on keyboards once. that was funny that I tried that

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 02:17 (four months ago) link

man, I love "Two Step."

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 02:18 (four months ago) link

xps Milton "In The Doghouse" is essential, yeah

really wish they'd reissue this:

Ambient Police (sleeve), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:07 (four months ago) link

and I never knew "The Letter" dates from that period, so that's why it gives me chills

Ambient Police (sleeve), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:08 (four months ago) link

I knew "Doghouse" & the 7", but not the '84 demos linked in the article! amazing that Donelly had written 'Not Too Soon' that early

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:25 (four months ago) link

I have a long, long interview I did with Dave Narcizo back in 1994 and I don't quite know what to do with it - we published it in our little fanzine but it's completely obscure. He was the friendliest guy - blew out our allotted 20 minute interview to over an hour, once he realised I really knew the band's stuff - and at the show I travelled to in Melbourne, welcomed me like a friend when I crept up and said "I did that long phone interview." He invited my friend and I to the band room after the show, even gave us beers from the rider, I remember Bernard opening them on the edge of the table. I was too overwhelmed to talk to Kristin but she and Billy were friendly - pretty tired tho. Vivid memory from the show of K's electric blue eyes fixed on a point at infinity while she swayed around her Strat and its cowgirl decal.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 03:29 (four months ago) link

dirt is on the floor is one of my favorite deep cuts, glad to see it mentioned

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 04:49 (four months ago) link

Me to Dave Narcizo in the mid-'80s, shortly before the Muses were to play at the Blue Pelican, a now-defunct club in Newport, RI: "Let me buy you a drink."
Dave: "I'm not legal yet."

Jazzbo, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:32 (four months ago) link

Pretty sure I was at that spring 1985 show at the Living Room.

Jazzbo, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 15:35 (four months ago) link

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