An Eclectic Gastronomy of Sound
Members of 10,000 Maniacs have been quoted as saying that their name probably hurt them in the beginning of their career. With a name like that, some club owners wouldn’t even book them for shows, expecting a violent punk band. As we know, 10,000 Maniacs (and their lead singer Natalie Merchant) eventually became one of the biggest bands of the 1980’s and 1990’s. I expect a similar curse affected Devils Wielding Scimitars (with a name like that…), unfortunately, however, DWS never attained the popularity of 10,000 Maniacs.
Formed in the late 1980’s in Maryland, the band was lead primarily by guitarist Scott Tyburski and vocalist Suzy Callahan. Drum and Bass slots were filled by a number of different people during the band’s run. Most reviews you read of the band (from what you can find – there’s not much info. on the net) highlight Callahan’s voice. Strangely, many compare it to the aforementioned Natalie Merchant (maybe because of the band names? maybe because their audiences were probably similar?) I don’t hear a lot of similarity between the two myself – if I had to compare Callahan’s vocals, I would think more of Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays, or Edie Brickell. There were really only three main album releases during DWS’s roughly 10 year existence, with an EP of songs recorded during that time period (called “2 1/2”) released a few years ago. You can read the reviews I wrote of those albums on the Allmusic Guide (back in the murky past, I was a freelance writer for Allmusic).
So, the last full-length DWS album was released in 1997, but Suzy Callahan returned to music after a foray into acting and began releasing solo albums in the mid 2000’s. Most of these are excellent, with “Big Helpless Sleep”, from 2010, being one of her best works (solo or with DWS). And you can purchase it really cheaply through her website! I’m sad to see that many of her other solo albums seem to already be somewhat hard to acquire (though I may be able to help you if you’re looking for them).