Heathen Shame | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Heathen Shame

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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. Monday, July 1, 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia; 773-227-4433. Tuesday, July 2, 8 PM, Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee; 773-235-3727.

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