Posts Tagged ‘Major Stars’

Major Stars

There’s no great exploration of East Coast psychedelia without inclusion of Major Stars. Grown out of a connection formed when Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar shared time in the short-lived, but critically loved, Magic Hour, the band sprung to life with a ferocity that can be felt through to the marrow. The band incubated in famed record store Twisted Village (owned by the pair) and they have been a fixture for going on twenty years. Their latest in a run of great LPs for Drag City, Roots of Confusion, Seeds of Joy, shows no signs of the band turning away from their heavy shred prowess tempered with elegiac vocals. Rogers and Biggar burn through runs that would put a blush in the cheek of Munehiro Nirita and the fact that they’ve shared many stages with Acid Mothers Temple ought to be some indication of what’s at play here.

The sound that simmers in the veins of Roots… seeps right out of their last hard charger, Motion Set, though they swap out vocal duties from Hayley Thompson-King to Noell Dorsey this time around. Her delivery soars above the fray, turning the tumult into alchemy in waveform — a guiding light above the three-guitar attack the band metes out over the course of seven songs. Dorsey’s vocals tense and roll away from the dexterous guitar army thrashing behind her. Her style moves seamlessly from the kind of coiled, but coy ‘90s indie to soaring psych-folk forays. Though, admittedly, the band never quite meets the folk half of that equation, playing calm occasionally, but never quite taking the intensity below a simmer. But that’s not why we’re all here, is it? Major Stars have always had their teeth in an artery delivering both adrenaline and feedback in equal gushes. On Roots of Confusion, Seeds of Joy they continue to do what they do best — burn down the walls and collect the ash for next year’s rites and riffs.



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Wayne Rogers on The Plastic Cloud – S/T

It’s been a year of greats in Hidden Gems lately and rolling down the list of psych luminaries for contributors, the latest sees Wayne Rogers (Major Stars, Crystalized Movements, Magic Hour) take a turn looking inward for inspiration. This year has already seen Rogers add to his legacy with a solo LP on his own Twisted Village imprint and a new Major Stars on the way from Drag City next week. The guitar work of Rogers can be seen making an impact all over recent accolytes, from the cinder n’ smoke of Feral Ohms to the ragged grace of Wet Tuna. Wayne turns back to his earlier years with Crystalized Movements for a psych nugget that pushed his own boundaries. Check Wayne’s dive into the one-off wonders of The Plastic Cloud.

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Major Stars – “Out In The Light”

Oh man, the fount of Wayne Rogers is overflowing this year. After a finely formed solo LP on Twisted Village earlier in the year, Rogers is back with Major Stars for their tenth full length. The first sounds seeping out of Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy are as potent as ever. Towering riffs, a rumble of fuzz, and an elegiac croon from new vocalist Noell Dorsey (Avoidance, Ricochet) give the new material some serious heft. “Out in the Light” embodies as much of the classic burn of the Stars as one could hope for with a newfound melodicism from Dorsey that elevates her from the usual haze the band employs. Check the cover art from RSTB fave Robert Beatty as well, giving the record a complete package. LP lands August 16th.



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Wayne Rogers

Outside of his work with Major Stars, Crystalized Movements and Magic Hour, Wayne Rogers has had a prolific run of records under his own name. These range from acoustic comedowns to toasted cone blues, psych burnouts, and downer rock wallows that feel particularly Northeastern in their approach to the Alt-rock ripple (think Fort Apache and Feeding Tube vibes). While the Stars will always overshadow these, to discount the Rogers’ solo records is to make a major misstep. The Air Below falls squarely into that East Coast downer detour I mentioned previously and comes swinging close to early inklings that Rogers laid down on Ego River and Seven Arms of the Sun, which were both later bound up in the easier to cop CD release Absent Sounds. There’s the same sundried scorch to the guitars with just a touch of wandering shuffle that melts into a jangled haze. The noise is still working its way around, but as a tool, rather than the focus here.

This is Roger’s first solo work since 2008’s Infinite For Now and while it, like most Twisted Village releases, appears out of thin air without its share of the deserved PR fanfare, the record is a great addition to his longstanding stable. His experimental releases are always foaming in the right ways, but these vocal strummers seem to scratch a particular itch. The blast of air from “Bad Idea” is among his best – high octane guitar burn coupled with Rogers’ amiably nasal croon make it feel like the perfect mix of ‘90s record labels reaching further into the underground than was advisable. It echoes the kind of noise-flecked burners that found their way to the airwaves despite themselves and we all wound up better for their hubris. Not so long ago Twisted Village folded without an expectant return date, but with this release, both Rogers and the label come bounding back, reminding us all why they were so vital in the first place.



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