One of the quietly great college bands from the 1980s, Throwing Muses was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Kristin Hersh and her half-sister guitarist/vocalist Tanya Donelly (now of Belly) with a few friends from high school. In 1986 the group's debut album was put out by the prestigious British label 4AD; Throwing Muses were the first American band to be released on that label. Throwing Muses' angular, anguished, mercurial sound had much to do with Hersh's mental illness (she suffered from a form of bipolarity that caused her to hallucinate), especially on the early albums like House Tornado. 1991's The Real Ramona marked a break from the heaviness of the previous albums, with lots of shimmery pop gems penned both by Hersh and Donelly, who contributed at least one song an album througout her stay in the band. Creative tensions between the two songwriters rose until Donelly left in 1992 to play with The Breeders and ultimately form Belly. That year Hersh reformed The Muses with drummer David Narcizo and released the band's fourth album, Red Heaven. After that, Hersh released a solo album and toured extensively, leaving fans to wonder about the status of The Muses. In 1995, however, Hersh and the rest of The Muses (Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges) released University, one of the band's most cohesive and accessible efforts; University was followed by Limbo in 1996.
The group's dissolution was announced soon after, with Hersh continuing on as a solo artist; In a Doghouse, a collection of rare early Muses material, followed in 1998. In Spring 2000, the Muses reunited for a special event called "The Gut Pageant," which featured a set from Hersh, Narcizo, Bernard Georges and Robert Rust as well as a solo performance by Hersh, short films by Narcizo and a picnic lunch hosted by the group. During three weekends in 2002, the trio got together to record another album; released the same day in 2003 as Hersh's The Grotto, Throwing Muses (self-titled, just like their debut) was the group's rawest, loudest album. Donelly provided background vocals on some of the songs. ~ Heather Phares, All Music Guide