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Rock: Psychedelic Rock: Shoegaze Moods: Type: Experimental
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Major Games

by Major Games

Long-awaited debut album by heavyweight Lawrence, Kansas trio. Sounds like what you'd imagine if My Bloody Valentine, Aphex Twin and Wire had a baby and left it out in the sun too long.
Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Life
3:56 $0.99
2. Prism
5:45 $0.99
3. Jennerz
2:47 $0.99
4. Other Location
5:32 $0.99
5. Risk
4:25 $0.99
6. Bdbdbd
4:49 $0.99
7. Burner
4:38 $0.99
8. Voice
4:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Produced by Major Games & Jim Vollentine. All songs written & performed by Major Games.

Jeremy Sidener - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Steve Squire - Drums
Doug McKinney - Guitars, Vocals

Recorded at The Black Lodge by Jim Vollentine.
Recorded at Clock Compound and Fire & Ice by Steve Squire.

Mixed by Jim Vollentine at Studio De La Ronjo.
Mixed by Steve Squire at Coil Audio Labs.

Mastered by Steve Squire at Coil Audio Labs.
Vinyl Master by Shelly Steffans at Chicago Mastering Service

Art by Travis Millard

"If you have nice furniture, I wouldn't recommend sitting on it while listening to this record because it's going to be an awful mess once your brains come leaking out of your ear and nose holes." - Kliph Scurlock

From Doug Mosurock at Still Single:

Back in 1996 or so I remember talking to Jeremy Sidener when he was in his band at the time, Panel Donor, about what was going on in his home of Lawrence, Kansas, apart from college football. He told me a tale of some sort of hypnotic psychedelic band called, I think, “The Perm,” that involved spinning pinwheels mounted to turntables, strobe lights, and – this was key – a shack out in the middle of nowhere. I tucked this away, half-remembered, until years later when a mutual friend who’d gone to school in Lawrence in the ‘90s explained how she had gotten herself (with some chemical help) to a mental state, while living alone in a giant, ramshackle farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, to where she was convinced that aliens were coming to abduct her, and of the preparations she’d made in acceptance of their arrival. Again, this is a half-remembrance that is starting to make sense upon listening to Major Games, the first new music I have heard out of Sidener in nearly 20 years. Take note that his drummer in Panel Donor, Jeff Conaway, went on to play in The Psychic Paramount (maybe the most forward-thinking and idiosyncratically forceful band of the millennium), and those tales I’m telling almost point to some sort of superheroic origin story involving “The Crystal” and the shared hallucinations of prime cut college kids on the edge.

Both The Psychic Paramount and Major Games are decidedly different bands, but if you squint you can see how they’d be cut from the same cloth; where PP is transporting, Major Games (still stationed in Lawrence) is more content to levitate in between bursts of rushing past, the result of what sounds like dozens of tracks of layered guitar and disorienting effects applied to guitarist Doug McKinney’s rig. Sidener and drummer Steve Squire, who engineered a good bit of this album over the past few years, put together a unified front of rhythmic syncopation, using half-time and double-time tricks to keep time standing still while McKinney smears string-bent elegies and chorus pedal abuse all over the canvas. Major Games moves through a number of stylistic tropes: Chameleons-esque post-punk (“Prism,” “Other Location,” “Voice”), something approximating a graduated take on shoegaze (opener “Life”), and fleet-footed experiments in progressive rock (“Risk” and “Burner,” which give off the strange essence that I’m listening to a band that’s taking cues from early ‘80s Genesis, but stretched taut with the treatments afforded the rest of the record). Admittedly, they get a bit lost at points, like on the confusing stumble of “Jennerz,” as if someone unstrung Polvo and let them fall on top of one another. But I’m of the mind that it doesn’t really matter when the band has taken such gigantic, othering steps to push forth a stale form into something mature that can stand on its own. It’s a really daring work, even in its more mannered moments, displaying an ambition missing in so many other areas of music these days. White vinyl, beautiful sleeve. A real accomplishment. I’m kirking out over here!

(Doug Mosurock)

From Torin Andersen at F5:

Major Games champions guitar amalgamation and sonic innovation. Sitting stylistically somewhere between the Scottish electric duo Boards of Canada and indie noise rock band Polvo, Major Games has produced a guitar-centric record that may alienate guitar enthusiasts.

Pushing the boundaries of what the guitar exists for in the modern rock power trio, Doug McKinney, guitarist and singer, moves from very modern rock riffage to more expansive guitar-melting passages informed by electronic musicians like Clark and Aphex Twin. Bent on forcing electric guitar tradition on its ear, McKinney sets the bar high for tonal mutation. Even fuzzed out power chords (a rock tradition) sound exotic.

Anthemic, opener "Life" is a sonic rejoice that will motivate the most lethargic of the uninspired to try something different. The repeating vocal refrain by the prime vocalist (as in he sings on the prime-numbered tracks 1, 3, 5 and 7) is "Find a new way, find a new way to hang on." It is as cathartic as it is reflective.

That track is followed by the cryptic "Prism," where Major Games start to flex its dynamic muscle.
Starting with what sounds like ghost vibraphones over drummer Steve Squire thudding eighth notes on the floor tom, the groove on this nearly 35 minute full-length is steady like a rock.

Pushing rock boundaries to the hilt, "Jennerz" escapes the reigns of conventional anything over many breaks during it's under-three-minute vagary. Little of it sounds like a rock band and even less sounds like an electric guitar — unlike "Other Location," which has a very recognizable guitar tone although sounding sea sick and weary from the haul only four songs in.

A guitar strung through tape (sure, why not?!), pushed and pulled to the extent of musicality, McKinney manages to thrust this augmented sound into the form of a riff on "Risk," on which bass player Jeremy Sidener shines. Sidener's ability to nail the low end reminds the listener during those particularly "out there" moments that these are songs that one may be able to sing along to after more experience with the vernacular, sung in a dialect characterized by its ear candy effects.

The record continues very similarly, expanding the boundaries of what one could expect a single band to produce sonically in 35 minutes, until noticing lack of subtlety that is addressed in the finale, "Voice." Sounding like bedtime lullabies or English indie pop band The xx, Major Games almost floats through the four minute closer on a cushy kick drum pulse backed minimally by other percussion.

Major Games was self produced in collaboration with Jim Vollentine, and its sound is dense, full and rich. Initial recording started in 2012 at Blacklodge Recording near Lawrence, and then it was stretched over the last three years and as many different spaces until Vollentine mixed at Studio De La Ronjo in Austin. Steve Squire finished the mixing process at Coil Labs in Lawrence.

The drums explode when needed but retain every bit of their sonic composition when pushed. The layered guitars, though incredibly dense, have plenty of room to exist. The vocals are a tad masked but blend well in the mix without standing out. The bass sounds huge, stable and very tight on every set of headphones, home stereos and car speakers I've checked out.
Being pressed to vinyl, all of these nuances will be appreciated (Especially the car stereo test, because who doesn't have a turntable in their car?) over time if not immediately wooing to the listener.

Of course though, the second reason we like collecting vinyl is having good artwork on a 12"x12" surface to show off, and what Travis Millard has produced is the visual equivalent of the pastel sonic waves that reside within the grooves on this white slab of wax.

(Torin Andersen)

Nathan Cardiff at I Heart Local Music:

Seven months since releasing their single “Life,” Major Games finally gives us the full length record we have all been anxiously awaiting. And what an album (just look at that cover art!) of heavy hitters, weird vibes, and thunderous sound.

“Life” knocks us off our feet with the magnificent noise and is best played as loud as fucking possible. “Find a new way/Find a new way to hang on” the lyrics challenge. The moody and dark “Prism” slinks with a gnarly bass line and hypnotizing drums; the vocals find a new delivery when the chorus hits “Why do we wait?/Why do we wait on you?” and in its nearly six minute runtime you are held under its spell until it shakes you loose.

Of course we all know that Major Games are notoriously loud and they do not disappoint on the self-titled LP with tracks like the furious “BDBDBD” with its screech and fuzz. The buzzing “Other Location” creeps around and strikes with flashes of violent bedlam. That buzz rings out on “Burner” with its sprinting tempo. Or maybe the buzz is just in your ears from the commotion these guys make. Major Games also get experimental with strange tracks like “Jennerz” & “Risk” pushing time signatures and song structure, slamming into the intersection of noise and song. They aren’t bullshitting, which is the best part. They take these tracks to the brink of insanity and never ease us down.

Major Games ends with the atmospheric “Voice,” a perfect conclusion to the record with dark intentions lingering under soft vocals. As we move through Spring and into lighter nights and warmer days, Major Games let us relish in the dark a little longer. They let an intensity simmer throughout and explode frequently. One of the year’s best; all the anticipation has paid off.

Favorite Tracks: “Life,” “Prism,” “Other Location,” & “Voice”

(Nathan Cardiff)



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