Major Stars

Distant Effects

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When people hear the term "jam band," they usually think of an outfit that has a Grateful Dead fixation. But even though Distant Effects has a strong late-'60s/early-'70s influence and is loose and spontaneous enough to appeal to the jam band scene, Major Stars doesn't sound anything like the Grateful Dead, Kingfish, or the New Riders of the Purple Sage (all of which are stereotypical examples of the laid-back Bay Area jam band sound of that era). Instead, Distant Effects favors a style of psychedelic hard rock/acid rock that is closer to Jimi Hendrix and Cream. The two-guitar attack of singer/guitarist Wayne Rogers and guitarist Kate Village -- who, along with bassist Tom Leonard and drummer Dave Lynch, comprise Major Stars -- recalls the heaviness that Hendrix and Eric Clapton brought to the table in the late '60s. But tracks like "Elephant," "Are We," and "Hardly Mention" are a lot spacier than Hendrix was known for being; on Distant Effects, Major Stars has no problem being heavy and spacy at the same time. Nor does the band have a problem improvising and jamming, which is why jam band enthusiasts should be aware of this CD. But again, Major Stars doesn't sound anything at all like the Grateful Dead/New Riders school of Bay Area jam band country-rock. At times, Distant Effects meanders a bit too much for its own good. But if Major Stars can be overly self-indulgent, one is inclined to be forgiving because the rockers have an appealing sound and because their creativity is at a fairly high level. All things considered, Distant Effects is an enjoyable, if imperfect, album of retro-psychedelic jamming.

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