Major Stars return with massive set of guitar excursions

JAKE O'CONNELL
Associated Press

Major Stars, "Motion Set" (Drag City)

Fiercely independent Northeast psych legends Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar have been playing together for decades in bands like Crystalized Movements and Vermonster. The couple ran the influential Twisted Village label and store of the same name out of Harvard Square until closing in 2010.

Major Stars is their current incarnation. "Motion Set" is the band's ninth LP and first since 2012. They describe themselves as "a bunch of guitar players, a bass player, a drum player and whoever the heck is singing Wayne's poems."

Propulsive from the onset, "Alert" blares out the gate with a smeared guitar shriek before giving way to the sturdy, honed tone of singer Hayley Thompson-King. Two wicked guitar transgressions later, sheets of feedback put the song to rest. "Unlearn" just rips; a six-string avalanche chases a mindful chorus and things just get more intense from there.

Heavy and hook laden, "For Today" is a power surge and the clear hit. With Thompson-King reeling off lines like "Come on tell me what you mean not what you say" and instruments flailing every which way. Parts of "Change Your Memory" align with fellow Massachusetts guitar god J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.

At times the tight rhythm section gets swept up in the monstrosity of the guitar work. The seventh track and album closer, "Fade Out," redacts its title, as soaring fretwork and an explosion of effects dismantle any semblance of structure.

There are no gimmicks here. No punches pulled. Like they say: bass, drums, guitars, poetry. And it's an absolute blast.