Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lost and Found (Album): Throwing Muses - S/T

I almost didn’t include the first Throwing Muses album in this series. Out of all the albums I've written about so far, it's the one I've listened to the least. But that does nothing to lessen its impact. This record fucking scared the shit out of me when I first heard it. And I loved every minute of it.

Without getting into why it's a such a rare feat for a woman to make an ugly sound (the pretty girl/pretty voice trope is well-documented, I don't think anyone needs a primer), Kristin Hersh's voice is a thing  to behold: an unapologetic screeching, visceral growl. She's also an uncommon songwriter, willing to wade through the muck of simply being female and growing up in a culture that devalues that.

Throwing Muses' songs are incredibly complex --I mean, musically complex --  something that's gotten lost along the way. Historically, critics have over-focused on her lyrics, and, regrettably, her bipolar disorder. I've read too many reviews and interviews which seem to focus solely on her disease as the inspiration for her music -- or the strangeness of it. And it's terribly unfair. In an interview with Venus way back in 2003, of the way the media has promoted her music Hersh says:

"... I can't be angry about it because press is press, like they say, and I appreciate the job that a music journalist does. It's very difficult and you need an angle beyond 'And this person made another record.' But I was disappointed in that particular angle because people had implied that music was made by crazy people before, and I had always said, 'No, this is what would come out of your sister or your wife or your friend. It's only strange to your ears because you've been raised on Top 40.'"

Truth: Hersh is still out there making music, though the Muses have been all but written out of the indie canon. (Indie rock is quite the boys' club -- why, you haven't noticed?)

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