Major Stars CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers

Music Reviews
Major Stars CD reviewed by Luc Rodgers
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Nov 7, 2007, 05:52

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MAJOR STARS Mirror/Messenger CD

Use the freshest and most complimentary ingredients and you will have yourself a tasty dish. One slip up and the faces will sour. Take that fact and bring it into the realm of music (or most anything else, for that matter) and the same rings true. So many good ideas and projects have been ruined, or at least held back, by one or two factors in the final equation. Production is the main culprit in this fickle game of sounds; too much of this, not enough of that, and everything goes to hell. The most unfortunate perpetrator is the member that just can't perform at the level of their mates, or, in the worst case, just doesn't fit. They've done nothing wrong, in fact everything is right—the desire is there, the talent as well. “Sorry, man. It's just, um, not working out.” No one wants to be that person.

That's where the music journalist comes in.

Major Stars bring the world their sixth album in nearly a decade, Mirror/Messenger and second with their expanded sextet lineup. Nope, no keys, but three guitars (long time combo of Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar lets Tom Leonard join in on the ruckus) and a singer (a belting Sandra Barrett) fill out the pounding rhythms of Casey Keenan (drums) and Dave Doogan (bass). The enormity of the band bleeds into each track with a wallop and authority, but when Barrett pushes everything into each line (usually beginning within the first few seconds of each track), the power is stripped from every ringing chord, every smacking fill.

 “No More,” the too-close-to-Alice-Cooper opener, robs the listener the chance to be rightfully introduced to a group of people simply rocking the hell out of their rock toys with those vocals. Ugh…those vocals. It is a rare office Christmas party—the band is loud and letting go and everyone is moving, shaking. Then what's-her-face from accounting has a few screwdrivers and demands to get on the mic to the chagrin of everyone except for that other guy in receiving who has been itching to get to know her. “Half Centered Half Sane” gets in your face with amazing riff after riff, even throwing in some licks to move the heads of the metal crowd, but again the mouth opens and covers the sin with an innocence that is unfortunate. “Portable Freak Factory,” despite the icky name, is freedom rock at its finest. T-tops would be removed and beer cracked open to celebrate the best summer ever if that girl next to you would just hush up. “My People” has promise; long, drawn out feedback lets the trio of guitars beat the eardrums and lets the best, most crucial aspects shine. Let it go, go, go! If only they could. You will never be so relieved to hear an extended rock solo; the wah creeps up and it is Monterey Pop Fest in all of its fire and fury. Delicious. “East to West” and “Can't End Today” are both plagued with the aforementioned diseases.

“Hercules” brings the gift pined for—an instrumental. Sure enough, it is the best cut on the record. The reckless abandon reeks of a young, less showy Moon on the trap set, Yardbirds-era Page learning from the ground up, a naïve Hendrix figuring out what can really be done, and an always-quiet but nonetheless important John Paul Jones trying his hand at live performance. It is a special occasion put to tape. After realizing how good it felt but still not working up the nerve to solve the problem, the title track is long and wild, with its shortfalls sparsely placed and trudged through.

If vocals are not important, by all means get this. The anarchic yet melodic combination of these rocking psyche gods is truly wonderful. To hear something so loud, releasing. If the contrary is true, steer clear. There are plenty of hammered office workers that will sing for free if you just buy them whatever the hell it is they drink. [Drag City]

-Luc Rodgers

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