Magnet Magazine - Issue No. 50 Jun/Jul 2001
By Fred Mills
This New Jersey trio is fronted by the undeniably charismatic poetess Suran Song, whose performance-art approach to rock ensures the group a measure of notoriety and fame. On the one hand, the music is a dizzying blend of atmospheric, Pylon-esque avant-thump -art rock by any other name- that, variously, runs toward shrewish darkwave, churning agitprop post-punk and stream-of-consciousness psychedelia. The quasi-minimalist bass/drums arrangements, textured on occasion with guitar and keyboards, focuses the lens squarely on Song, whose free-ranging meditations burn with intent even when she's cooing like the proverbial dove.
There are some gimmicky goings-on, however. Cowboys and Indians' two discs are subtitled Karaoke Cowboy Dance Disc and Small Change Indian Trance Disc, but neither diverges significantly from the other. The artwork is an homage to the Gang Of Four's epochal Entertainment! sleeve, and indeed, Suran Song in Stag credibly covers a pair of GOF numbers ("Natural's Not In It" and "I Found That Essence Rare"), both seared and served with with brutal efficiency. Fair enough; but a swathe of other covers, ranging from the inspired (a radical overhaul of Lords Of The New Church's "Open Your Eyes," Throwing Muses' "Hate My Way") to the insipid (a thrashy version of 10,000 Maniac's "My Mother The War,") to the inscrutable (tunes by Duran Duran, Paul Weller and the Chills), sends confusing signals. Is this a thematic, pointedly political set or simply the group's live repertoire redone in the studio? Hard to say. Strong band, diluted message-but worth investigating.