Band of Susans
“In the 1980s, when New York's art-noise scene was at its apex, British imprint Blast First willingly signed its innovators. In a quick swoop, the label became the home of Sonic Youth, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr. and Band of Susans. The group was the latest in New York's lineage of bands melding rock with the avant-garde - a pedigree that began in the late 1960s with The Velvet Underground.
Formed by avant-garde flautist Susan Stenger and guitarist Robert Poss, Band of Susans was a rock band without the rock clichés…. Each instrument was given its own part, and they fitted together like building blocks to create droning, dense textures.
The band's name came from the trio of Susans in the group's original line-up: Stenger on bass and Susans Tallman and Lyall on guitars. With Poss serving as the third guitarist and Ron Spitzer on drums, the quintet released the Blessing And Curse EP in 1987. The poppy single "Hope Against Hope" was chosen by Melody Maker as Single of the Week.
Waves of distortion blew across the Susans' 1988 debut LP, Hope Against Hope. Unusual tunings, and staccato drums and melody lines that proceeded vertically rather than horizontally, made the listener feel caught in an electrical storm. Tallman and Lyall departed prior to 1989's Love Agenda; the vacancies were filled by Karen Haglof, who had played in Rhys Chatham's guitar ensembles with Poss and Stenger, and Page Hamilton, who later formed Helmet. The new line-up's songs were grinding and angular, as melody lines stopped, started and shifted to expose underlying layers. The blues - as well as The Rolling Stones' version of them - threaded through the music. The Stones' influence eventually culminated in the 1992 Susans' EP Now, which featured instrumental and vocal versions of "Paint It Black".
By the time the Susans' 1991 tribute to the E chord - entitled The Word And The Flesh - was released, guitarists Mark Lonergan and Anne Husick had replaced Haglof and Hamilton. The subsequent LP, Veil (1993), supplanted R&B rhythms with crunched sonic shards. 1995's Here Comes Success - a title meant as both a sarcastic barb and a nod to Iggy Pop - used rock beats to aerate melodic, prolonged compositions. Also released in 1995 was the greatest hits compilation Wired For Sound, which devoted one disc to songs with vocals and another to instrumentals, an often overlooked component of the Susans' work.”
- Julie Taraska, from The Rough Guide To Rock