- by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2016-11-11 Label: Drag City
Major Stars aren’t. But that’s O.K. with Wayne Rogers (not the dead guy from M*A*S*H*) and Kate Biggar. They’re just fine making as much racket as possible with whoever stumbles into the studio when they’re in the middle of making a record. They ran the cult record shop Twisted Village in Cambridge, MA until high rent and low turnout for their twisted, eclectic marketing scheme clashed and they closed shop. They also released almost all their albums on the record shop’s sideline venture, the Twisted Village label. This is their (approximately) 13th release in the almost 20 years they’ve been around. Rogers used to sing all the material until he gave the mic over to a more soothing female voice (Sandra Barrett). Since then, three other soothing female voices have held mic duties. I think a fourth appears here. The original quartet has expanded to a sextet, so there’s more room for more racket. Side projects include dressing up in robes and flower garlands and performing a tribute to Merrell Fankhauser’s Mu project (as Children Of The Rainbow), pairing up with the Galaxie 500 rhythm section (Damon & Naomi) as Magic Hour, and the self-explanatory Bongloads of Righteous Boo (B.O.R.B.). Obviously, these chaps and chapesses are seriously fucked in the head. And so is their music.
The album opens with the self-explanatory ‘Alert’ - sirens blaring, drums threatening to collapse the building, and bombastic bass that might shatter the windows, while our vocalist shouts above the heavy metal thunder. Rogers’ white hot string shredding might cause ear bleeding in sensitive listeners. ‘Change Your Memory’ is a title that hints at their surreal sense of humour...and choice of recreational, uh, recreation. It’s smokin’ hot (hint! hint!), full of screaming solos, ferocious female vocals, and thunderous rhythmic crunches that snuggle somewhere between Sabbath, Sleep, and Julian Cope’s Brain Donor (or is it Drain’d Boner?) ‘I Believe You’ flails L.A.M.F., but reins in the terror with a fairly melodic tune that should appeal beyond those kids living in their parents’ basements with X-boxes and, well, bongloads of righteous boo.
The epic (i.e., 11-minute) title track loses its way halfway through, rambling, gamblin’, shamblin’ like six strings in search of a tune, and the album fades out with ‘Fade Out’ but not before the shreddingest string slashing you’ve ever heard – like a chainsaw gone wild. I’m afraid to type anymore – my fingers have started bleeding on the keyboard in sympathetic reaction to Rogers’ feats of strength. Not recommended for listeners with heart conditions or tinnitus; in fact, sitting too close to your speakers may induce both!
I'm loving this. The female vocals are amazing but as you mention, the guitar on the final tracks is mental.