POP

THROWING MUSES
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The Independent Culture
There's no doubt about it. The US female led constabulary of left- field rockers is 50 times more bountiful and stimulating than its British counterpart. We have PJ Harvey, and, um, that's about it. Echobelly? Sleeper? Featherweights. As for the Yanks, if there was a birth point for the current generation of guitar gals it was Boston, 1988. There was The Pixies, whose Kim Deal later formed the influential Breeders. College pop rockers The Blake Babies, meanwhile, spawned squeaky-but-getting-better Juliana Hatfield. But first to become indie deities over here were the four-piece Throwing Muses (right), led by Kristin Hersh, with step-sis and fellow guitarist Tanya Donnelly by her side. Songs were scary, oblique voyages into Kristin's psyche, which only nowadays follow along more conventional lines.

Tanya left some while ago to form Belly, and has collected all the indie- babe cover shots - Belly songs have more sugar and, frankly, more blokes fancy Tanya. Belly will be here later in February, no doubt to find the same old sold-out signs as Throwing Muses are getting now. Lord knows why Britain hasn't cultivated the same breed of individualistic, driven creatures now rocking through their mid-to-late twenties. Kristin even has two kids, yet she manages to put out an album a year. Current long- playing issue University isn't as mind-boggling as previous albums, but Kristin's evergreen way with a melody is as present as ever. Brit singer- songwriters could do with some of that.

Throwing Muses, 7pm tonight, Shepherd's Bush Empire

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