In the history of rock ‘n’ roll only Tanya Donelly can lay claim for the formation of three critically salient bands. Tanya Donelly is New England’s consummate indie musician, an artist whose creative vision helped define the Alternative era. Beginning with Throwing Muses in 1981, Donelly, along with her half-sister Kristin Hersh, created music that was both challenging and engaging with off-beat tempos and stark lyrics. Donelly, more of (The Clash’s) Mick Jones to Hersh’s Joe Strummer, provided lead guitar while sharing the vocals. Her song contributions displayed her innate melodic sensibilities.
After four albums with Throwing Muses she moved on to form The Breeders with Kim Deal in 1989. Deal was a member of The Pixies and the two had met when the Muses toured with The Pixies in Europe. Their first album, Pod, was cited by Kurt Cobain as one of his favorite records of all-time. The Breeders later recorded their best-known song “Cannonball” but by then Tanya had moved on and put together Belly (with former Rhode Island classmates), a band in which she was fully in charge.
Belly’s debut album Star (1993) featured the hit single “Feed the Tree,” which rose to Number 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. Star climbed to Number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and was nominated for a Grammy in 1994 for Best Alternative Album. The band was also nominated for Best New Artist. The album went gold selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. and over 2 million worldwide. In 1995 Belly appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Yet after two albums Tanya broke up the band (1996) and went solo. Recording 4 albums and a number of EPs into 2004, Tanya stepped back to raise a family, occasionally performing live. In 2013 she reemerged with 5 self-released EPs recorded with a variety of artistic partners including Bill Janovitz, John Wesley Harding, Dean Fisher, Rick Moody, Damon & Naomi, and Robyn Hitchcock to name just a few. These 5 EPs are now in one splendid collection entitled The Swan Song Series. This, however, was not Tanya’s swansong as she has reunited Belly; the new album Dove and subsequent tour are expected in May 2018. Tanya Donelly follows her own muse and we wait in anticipation of her new musical explorations.
Published on March 6, 2018