There's nothing cornier than a lank-haired white chick with an acoustic guitar whining about life's and love's inequities, right? Okay, we admit Joni Mitchell is an exception. So is alt-rock vet Kristin Hersh, who just dropped a corker of a solo acoustic album, The Grotto (4AD/Beggars Group). There's something in Hersh's hushed, otherworldly hymns about dysfunction and off-center mental states that's deeply unsettling -- in all the right ways. ''Snow buries Whitehall/White powdered Nembutal/And I can't think anymore,'' she sings on ''Sno Cat,'' and you know she's felt and lived that chill. Concurrent with ''The Grotto'''s release comes a new, eponymous album by Hersh's band, Throwing Muses. It rocks pretty good, but we'd really rather hear Hersh in stripped-down mode. She's got our vote for the title Ice Queen of Acoustic Ladyland.