In the mid-'80s, both the Pixies and the Throwing Muses emerged from the Boston music scene as forerunners of what would eventually become "alternative rock." The Pixies broke up before "alternative" became a fully operative buzzword -- that is, before those Best Buy commercials on TV with the goofy conservative stereotypes prattling on about "Fugazi" and "10,000 Birkenstocks" -- and thus never really enjoyed the bigtime success made available to such bands via Nirvana. The Pixies' bassist Kim Deal went on to form the Breeders, whose sophomore effort Last Splash cemented the band with the twins (Kim Deal and sister Kelly) as one of the best things about the early '90s music scene. In a similar fashion, Tanya Donelly left the Muses in 1991 to form Belly, whose recent album, King, is one of 1995's must buys, a sure-fire hit in these days of MTV Buzz Clips.
While, despite Donelly's departure, the Throwing Muses didn't break up, they have almost missed the Kurt Cobain-driven alternative bandwagon. Their latest release, University, comes three years after their pre-alternative Red Heaven. During this break, or leave of absence, or whatever, the Muses' frontwoman Kristin Hersh released a solo album, Hips and Makers. Now, back together again and on the road, the Throwing Muses -- singer/songwriter/guitarist Hersh, bassist Bernard Georges and drummer David Narcizo -- sound well and fine; Hersh's songs may have lost some of their surreal edge, but they're more developed and listenable as a whole. While some may view this easy-access incarnation of the Muses as being a lame marketing technique, it's probably more the extension of Hersh's life as a mom in her music. (Hersh's sons, Dylan and Ryder James, do the kidspeak thing on University's title track.) With University, and with many fans of today's mainstream/alternative rock discovering them for the first time, the Throwing Muses may finally receive the recognition they've long deserved. Their show at Rockefeller's shouldn't be missed, if for no reason other than the fact that alternative rock shows are a rarity at the venue.
-- Joe Hon
Throwing Muses plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 5 at Rockefeller's. Ass Ponys open. Tickets are $13. Call 869-8427 for info.
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