The members of Major Stars are in constant conflict with themselves on 4, during which a sweet, grunge-era pop sensibility goes head-to-head with massive psychedelic throwback guitar soloing. Guess which wins?
Or, donï¿½t guess. Just look at the recordï¿½s back cover. There are four songs, and this ainï¿½t an EP. That means an average of nearly ten minutes per track, which is plenty of time for thunderous Blue Cheer-style guitar theatrics and meandering jamming. Pop sensibilities? Thatï¿½s all well and good, but when it comes to heavy-hitters like the Major Stars, the instinct to just rock the fuck out will win every time. As well it should.
The four members of Major Stars are no Johnny-come-latelys to the burgeoning and increasingly derivative heavy-rock scene. The bandï¿½s two key players — guitarists Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar — have been making music together for the better part of the last three decades. This band arose from the ashes of the Magic Hour, a more gentle-sounding psych band whose rhythm section featured Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang (of, well, Damon and Naomi). After Damon and Naomi left the band to focus on their own blend of insufferable literary folk and fetishistic worship of the Japanese race, Rogers and Biggar recruited the considerably heavier rhythm section of Tom Leonard (Luxurious Bags) and Dave Lynch (of Vermonster, not Twin Peaks) to fill the void, and Major Stars was born.
The bandï¿½s cleverly titled fourth album opens with ï¿½How to Be,ï¿½ a heavy pop throwback that recalls vintage Dinosaur Jr. or Screaming Trees before launching into a furious, albeit relatively brief, classic-rock freak-out. The third track, ï¿½All the Time or Half the Time,ï¿½ is even more committed to basic notions of brevity and structure. Rogersï¿½s emotive yet monotone vocals are the basis for the song, and thereï¿½s even a ï¿½verse-chorus-verseï¿½ sort of thing going on. What the song is actually about, Iï¿½m still not sure. Something about the murky grey area between fifty percent and one hundred percent, I guess.
ï¿½Song For Turnerï¿½ just rocks and rocks and rocks and rocks. Rogers guides the band through the peaks and valleys of an epic jam, making detours in the lands of ï¿½popï¿½ and ï¿½metalï¿½ before settling into pure ï¿½rockï¿½ territory. His soloing is thick, warm and life-affirming without ever crossing over into schmaltzy guitar-shop asshole wankery. ï¿½Phantom No. 1ï¿½ is more drawn-out and darker, as low-end drones shimmer over a thudding tom beat until the song slowly develops into a euphoric wash of guitar squall, with the rhythm section working overtime to make sure the band doesnï¿½t float into the stratosphere.
Not that the stratosphere is a bad place to be. Say goodbye to Damon and Naomi and let the Major Stars take you there.