By Julio Diaz
Suran Song in Stag - Cowboys and Indians (double cd)
It's not hard to tell what musical era Suran Song in Stag draw most of their inspiration from. Simply look at the impressive list of covers that grace close to half of their new two-disc set, Cowboys And Indians: Gang Of Four's "Natural's Not in It" and "I Found That Essence Rare," 10,000 Maniacs' "My Mother the War," The Chills' "Familiarity Breeds Contempt," Duran Duran's "Friends Of Mine," The Lords of the New Church's "Open Your Eyes," The Pretenders' "Tattooed Love Boys," The Jam's "Ghosts," and Throwing Muses' "Hate My Way." Yep, they're ready for the (early) '80s, all right, with all the angular post-punk energy that implies.
The first disc, designated the "Karaoke Cowboy Dance Disc," includes the lion's share of the covers, all brimming over with that Gang of Four feeling -- angular, heavy guitars, and thumping bass. "My Mother the War" gets a slightly more raucous reading than its original version (which was by no means the typical 10,000 Maniacs mid-tempo mandolin fest that they became known for, to begin with), and "Friends Of Mine" is updated with some lyrics about Marshall Mathers, but otherwise, this disc could have easily been released contemporaneously with its covers, its two original songs ("Now Employment as a Right" and "Overman") easily maintaining the same spirit and energy.
The second disc (the "Small Change Indian Trance Disc") is slower and more atmospheric, and only has two covers (The Jam and Throwing Muses tracks), making the discs interesting inverse-images of each other. The second disc's original tracks like "Heaven" and "Slow Burn" bring to mind mid-period Siouxise and the Banshees and The Cure, as well as the obvious aforementioned influences. Everything fits together well, and is definitely an interesting listen. Fans of this era of music will delight in its authenticity. It's definitely recommended.