Major Stars-

Distant Effects LP/CD


Dusted e-zine

"Following their stint in the marvelous Magic Hour, guitarists Wayne Rogers and Kate Village (also proprietors of the ultra-fine store/label Twisted Village) embarked on a "Rock Revival" -- as they titled a previous Major Stars record. Considering this means that their guitar slinging gets to freak out even more, everyone should applaud their endeavor. Together with rhythm section Tom Leonard and Dave Lynch, Major Stars have spelunked into the depths of psychedelicized hard rock and through several albums continue to bring up gems. Though the sum of the parts is definitely what counts here, I can't help but claim that Wayne's wah-abusing leads are among the best out there when it comes to tasteful, joyful chaos. Hendrix would be proud, as are those of us who have seen -- well, heard -- the light.

Distant Effects, their finest half-hour yet, opens with "No Higher Meaning", a 4-minute piece of melodic drone rock. It possesses an unusual mix, with Wayne's vocals drifting pretty high while the dense guitars churn in the background. This one actually sounds more like Magic Hour than most recent Major Stars songs have, which is no bad thing. "Hardly Mention" follows, alternating calm, pretty verses with breaks that rock significantly harder, letting the guitars squeal while the rhythm section stops-and-starts in fine fashion.

"Are We" initially feels like a sad ode to life itself, but it's uplifted by a sheer joy that kicks in following the vocals -- it's clear that the band is having such a blast that nothing could be all that bad. The lead guitar scrambles for release, among other things, demonstrating that one can play really fast without losing the point. Wayne goes completely bonkers -- in a good way -- and lets loose with flurries of notes that stay together somehow, maintaining a firm melodic sense even as it all threatens to break apart into utter insanity.

The last song, "Elephant", is the epic here. Fifteen minutes of majestic psychedelic rock rollercoastering from placid verses towards an ever-growing, pulsating conclusion of droning guitars. As the end nears, suddenly we're left with nothing but guitar tones droning and buzzing, somehow not exactly feeding back. The overtones are quite hallucinatory if you're into that sort of thing. Which you should be.

Thoughout, the band keeps a firm balance, perhaps one part dreamy vocals to three parts instrumental frenzy: a recipe which is certainly perfect for my palate. The songs rest on Wayne's vocals during the lulls, letting the songs reach for the stars (so to speak) the rest of the time. No matter how chaotic it all seems during the high points, there's always a solid place in which to return, and it's that control that makes the songs stick together. The band's got a rare combination of power and self-restraint, perfectly balanced.

My only possible complaint here has nothing to do with the songs. It's just that I would have liked to hear the guitars stronger in the mix -- the recording doesn't quite satisfy my desire to hear all of the nuances and overtones that I can feel during the band's live shows. Nonetheless, it's certainly good enough to communicate the songs' power and assurance, so this is a relatively minor nitpick. And while some might argue that the album is too short, I really do prefer erring on the side of brevity. I'd rather be left wanting more than what usually happens, which is that I get about 50 minutes through a 70 minute album, and turn it off. Distant Effects is 34 minutes of solid, superb quality, which is the way it should be."-Mason Jones

Metro Times Detroit 7/10/02

"The kids don't know, but the old record collectors understand: While clueless, college-age record store clerks freeze up like spotlit deer when you utter the dreaded phrase, "Do you have any psychedelic music here?" and start praying some techno-hunting hipster will tap 'em on the shoulder, psych will always be a case of "you know it when you hear it." Cambridge quartet Major Stars know psych. Featuring guitar heroes Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar (both ex-Crystalized Movements and Magic Hour), the Stars' third album is loud but always tuneful, free-your-mind hoodoo. For most folks, the notion of a band specializing in extended instrumental jams can conjure aggravating images of dreadlocked white chicks and their hacky-sack-kicking boyfriends spare-changing you outside the venue. Distant Effects is no bad Dick's Picks flashback, however. The Stars unfurl thick columns of sound whose multilayered textures are as startlingly complex as their delivery is tautly, expertly wound. Case in point: the 15-minute "Elephant," which progresses from humble overtures of murmured/chanted vocalese and delicate fret pluckings into a throbbing, Hendrixian interstellar epic juiced with contemporary voltage (think "Third Stone From The Sun" if it had been composed by Sonic Youth for Daydream Nation) that gradually coalesces into a feedbacky, ambient-drone denouement. You're scarred when it's over, but strangely comforted too."-Fred Mills

Baltimore City Paper June 5, 2002

"The word "psychedelic" really should be verboten. Thanks to jam bands, anybody into sonic head trips who possesses half a brain cell wouldn't be caught dead listening to the psychedelic masses. Luckily, Kate Biggar and Wayne Rogers play guitars. As the team behind Boston's Twisted Village label and the duo whose axes powered Crystallized Movements, B.O.R.B., and Magic Hour, they've played together almost as long as jam bands have been making late-1960s sounds dance-friendly. And they're willing to piss into that wind with their own musical odysseys. Their latest venture, Major Stars, also features ex-Vermonster drummer Dave Lynch and Luxurious Bags mastermind/T-Village workhorse Tom Leonard on bass. Guitarist/vocalist Rogers' usual inspirations appear--punk energy, '60s garage punch, extended guitar runs, and a big wall of noise that frightens rodents yet somehow attracts curious folk who may have a well-worn copy of Lautréamont in their back pocket. Distant Effects, the Stars' third, finds the quartet sticking to its basic premise: Start off with a wash of Biggar's rosy guitar hum. Rogers' space-cruising voice floating over it. Galloping bass lines and heavy-hitting drums rustle this firmament. Rogers then convinces his guitar to speak in tongues. And everybody blasts off. Repeat as necessary in slowly increasing increments of time. Distant boasts four songs, one each in the four-, six-, nine-, and 15-minute range. What sounds formulaic is actually quite transcendent. Rogers' guitar tone spans Blue Cheer oomph and wah-wah peals, and he lays down febrile notes that rocket from the paisley into the pineal. When he does, you're either going to be aghast at the Stars' unholy communion or be convinced that Jesus wants you for a sunbeam and that the magic bus is leaving right about now. If it's the latter, go ahead and take that ride."-Brett McCabe

High Bias Web Zine August 11, 2002

"Led by guitarist/songwriter Wayne Rogers, Boston's Major Stars play loud, frenzied psychedelia on its third album Distant Effects; think the more acid-drenched moments of Cream, or Acid Mothers Temple with a more fully developed pop sense. Rogers and co-guitarist Kate Village (AKA Kate Biggar) have been well-respected figures in the American psych underground for nearly 20 years as leaders of cult bands Crystallized Movements and Magic Hour; while Major Stars doesn't put any new spins on the duo's aesthetic, it shows them in fine, rocking form. "No Higher Meaning" and "Hardly Mention" bury pop melodies under a hail of six-string noise without obscuring either the tunes or Rogers' warm voice; "Are We" takes the same premise and stretches it out a little. But the apex of the record is undoubtedly "Elephant," a nearly 15-minute tour de force of languorous melody, aggressive guitar improv and feedback-ridden sonics. "Elephant" will conjure up the perfect lightshow in your mind. Major Stars aren't reinventing the driving wheel on Distant Effects, but it does the astronomy dominie stomp as well as anyone past or present."-Michael Toland


"The best band in Boston these days is a group of four that rock like the classic power-trios of old, such as Hendrix and Cream. Wayne Rogers and Kate Village of Twisted Village fame front Major Stars, a band newly signed to hipster label Squealer (home of Acid Mothers Temple, Gold Sparkle Band). Their sound owes major debts to the late 60s thunder of Hendrix and Clapton, yet incorporates a folk mysticism and an sense of heaviness akin to Sabbath or in present terms, Bardo Pond. This band can jam like no other, and their third record "Distant Effects" demonstrates just that. The guitars are the showpiece here, and Wayne and Kate twist and squeal their way through the entire range of the guitar, in some cases several times per measure. This record is for the times when you want to just put something on, close your eyes, and let it encapsulate you. But make no mistake -- this band is loud. Beginning with the dirge-pop of "Higher Meaning" before heading into the Sonic Youth freakout that is "Hardly Mention", this record will leave you in awe of their musicianship. "Are We" mines Sabbath-like territory again, Wayne's bittersweet vocals taking the lead before descending into an indie-pop progression before leading you back to the same, dark, Sabbath-y tortoise crawl which acts like a tease for the shredding to come. The closer on the record, "Elephant" once again demostrates just how majestic this style of pop can sound when applied with such mastery." -Karthik

Big Takeover 51

"The psychedelic guitar duo of Kate Biggar and Wayne Rogers who have performed as Crystallized Movements and half of Magic Hour with Galaxie 500's Damon and Naomi, are joined here by Tom Leonard on bass and drummer Dave Lynch as Major Stars. Those familiar with Magic Hour and the music of the Twisted Village label which Kate and Wayne also run will find similar intense breakneck workouts on the four lengthy numbers included here. The songs begin slowly with vocals from Wayne and then ramp up into extended guitar freakouts with Wayne playing lead and Kate on rhythm. While not as melodically satisfying as the Magic Hour CDs, the nearly 15 minute tour de force, "Elephant" is certainly all you could ask for from extreme guitar rock."

Chicago Reader June 28, 2002

HEATHEN SHAME Monday 7/1, Hideout; Tuesday 7/2, Reckless Records.
"Major Stars' new Distant Effects (Squealer) is one of the best rock albums I've heard this year. The title notwithstanding, there's nothing remote about the record's head-banging riffs, crashing drums, and howling guitar solos. But anyone who's seen Boston-based guitarists Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar onstage--with the Stars, or before that with Magic Hour and Crystalized Movements--knows that no rock song can contain them. By the end of a show they always seem to wind up rolling on the floor in front of their amps, leaning into the monitor cabinets with the necks of their guitars, or tearing off their strings; sometimes they outlast the rest of the band, and the final 10 minutes of the set are nothing but waves of feedback. Heathen Shame, the couple's improvising trio with radical trumpeter Greg Kelley, starts where the two guitarists usually end: "Virgin," from their eponymously titled new LP (on Biggar and Rogers's label, Twisted Village), begins as a punishingly loud but surprisingly detailed dronescape, then crescendos into a freak-out that sounds like a bucketful of bolts in a garbage disposal. Despite the electrical storm raging around him, Kelley more than holds his own; he amplifies his trumpet, often deliberately overloading the mike, and when he presses a small square of sheet metal against the horn's bell like a cup mute, the resulting buzzes, squeals, and shrieks tear out of the speakers in gales. Heathen Shame is appearing at the Hideout with two New York bands, Hall of Fame and the excellent drone merchants Double Leopards, as part of the "All Head, No Bread" tour; the same lineup plays a free Reckless in-store the next day."-Bill Meyer

The Daily Aztec, March 21, 2002

"About 30 seconds into the Major Stars' first song, Kate Biggar's frame was peeling back and her hands were seemingly wringing every last note and errant sound out of her guitar. The legendary Boston band, who have been on tour with Acid Mother Temple, melted the packed and enthusiastic room with Owsley-strength blasts of lysergic white noise, undoubtedly conceived somewhere in the uncharted, unexplored part of the brain where dimensions five through 10 can be realized and broken through."






Copyright 2004, Squealer Music.