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University

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 7, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

CD reissue of the 1995 release, the fifth album by this Alternative/College Rock outfit led by Kristin Hersh. Often cited as one of the band's best albums overall, University reached #10 on the Billboard Heat seekers chart and contains some of Hersh's most intense and melodic songwriting yet. Wounded Bird. 2006.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 7, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Wounded Bird Records
  • ASIN: B000IHYX9Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,830 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The core of University is lead singer Kristin Hersh. Her voice is powerful yet modest: she doesn't attempt (thankfully) an operatic range or embellish her lines with unnecessary vibrato. The straight-up rock cuts are intense and moving (Bright Yellow Gun, Calm Down). University is minimalist (the melody is purposely subdued), rhythm driven and structurally complicated.
The most intriguing and adventurous cut is `Flood.' The composition opens with a sparkling guitar lead, overlays Kristin's voice with tick-tock string plucking, breaks into a second vocal melody (and a higher octave), then ends with a short synthesized harmony. The cut also changes tempo at least twice. If this sounds tedious and studied, it's not meant to. University is not a compilation of toe-tapping ditties. Each composition is smart and unique: `Start' is atonal, `That's All You Wanted' multi-layers Kristin's vocal harmonies, and `University' pastes together an assortment of sounds effects (including a child's voice) with rhythm guitar. Their frequent use of dissonance and resolution is scarce (and seldom accomplished) in popular music.
University reminds me of the noise-as-music experimentation of The Velvet Underground, the ambient pieces of Brian Eno, and the electronic experimentation of The United States Of America. I must credit Throwing Muses for their courageous risk taking and subsequent success.
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Format: Audio CD
I can't remember where I was when I first heard Kristen Hersch and Throwing Muses. I'm not even sure what made me go out and purchase "University", but there it was, popped into my CD player - again, and again, and again, and again. I couldn't find anyone to share my enthusiasm over this record and was fairly dumbfounded as to why TM was not on the lips of every indy rocker out there. Just mine. But that was okay, because I had found something that no one else had or seemed to appreciate. "University" was a turning point for me, as I had finally discovered music that somebody made that seemed to be made just for me. I didn't care if others didn't share my enthusiasm, or didn't think it was the best thing they've ever heard. It just didn't matter. What mattered was there was a band out there that didn't care, either. They just made music that made them feel good, and didn't give a damn that they weren't cracking the top 40. And that made me feel good, too.
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Format: Audio CD
Okay, two great things about this album: a) Kristin is in particularly good form here. Her quality of execution in both guitar playing and vocals is simply stunning. This is an album made by someone who musically knows what she wants, and goddamn NAILS it! b) Bernard Georges gets a really *sweet* bass tone on this album. Perhaps I'm predisposed to notice that since I'm a bass player myself, but this is just emblematic of what this album is all about; each member of the trio making the most of their individual abilities to create a product that is as airtight and downright superb as any album you'd care to name. Give it time to sink in, though, that's the case with every Throwing Muses album. But they are worth it in spades...
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Format: Audio CD
Throwing Muses - University (1995)

Sometimes a great album comes along and maybe it's just not the right time to hear it. You're not in a place in your life where you can really appreciate or connect with it. For example, when David Bowie's HOURS album first came out, I thought it was limp and lackluster. But the fact is, it was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was just rock out. I wanted to hear Bowie albums like ALADDIN SANE or disk 2 of BOWIE AT THE BEEB. Since then, HOURS has turned out to be one of my favorite Bowie albums.

Such is the case with Throwing Muses' UNIVERSITY. When it was first released I was actually attending a university and hearing an album with that title just didn't appeal to me for some reason. I was already in the middle of a "university" experience. And then I heard the lead single "Bright Yellow Gun" which, at the time, sounded to me like a contrived slice of alterna-pop, a cheap bid to get noticed by the alternative rock community, far removed from what the Muses were truly capable of. And thus I passed on the latest Throwing Muses album that year . . . So it's kinda strange that after over two decades of listening to this group, one of my very favorite bands of all time, I have come to regard UNIVERSITY as, song for song, the very best album they've ever done.

Some of their other songs are actually better than anything on UNIVERSITY. For example, I think "Pearl" and "Carnival Wig" are two that would definitely qualify, and I would say RED HEAVEN, the record that contains these two tracks, is a strong contender for top honors. But it has a few songs that don't rank so high. One in particular, "Dio", which I always skip, is weak enough to disqualify RED HEAVEN from my number one spot on its own.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A classic of the early Alternative era. Kristin Hersh's voice and songwriting chops are rarely outmatched. Slightly too long (both of the tracks "That's All You Wanted" and "Fever Few" sound weak relative to the rest of the album.) Nevertheless, University is a must-have.
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