04 July 2015
Major Games - "Major Games"
For me and most of the musical community of Lawrence, KS, the debut Major Games record has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2015. The three piece post-punk/shoegaze band has been around for quite a few years, but they only have on release to their name: their fantastic EP1, which came out all the way back in 2011. The band stayed fairly silent for about 2 years while recording this album, but they made their comeback at 2014's Lawrence Field Day Fest. One year later, we finally have the band's self-titled album, a full 4 years after their EP came out. And my god, it's awesome. It was well worth the wait.
The record starts with the textured and emotive "Life". The beautiful, reverb-slathered guitar sounds fill the whole space, while the tight bass line and hard hitting drums sit appropriately in the mix, making the whole son an instrumental powerhouse. The vocals from bassist Jeremy Sidener are passionate and full of [no pun intended] life. It's a wonderfully hazy song that is full of atmosphere and feeling that is perfect to start the record. Next up is "Prism", a very slow heavy burner that is methodical in it's approach. While the track might be boring to some, the incredibly emotional build it displays is really entrancing, and I really love it. But if that song is a bit slow for you, just wait for the absolutely brutal "Jennerz". This track is just... It's crushing. The melody and tone of the whole song is incredibly dark and heavy, and the guitar work from Doug McKinney is really out there. It sounds like he's using some sort of modulating delay (possibly from an Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine?), but adding a distortion before or after it that just makes it squeal and sound like the guitar is being shot at you from sort of hollow metal tube. His tone on this track is fascinating. It just adds to the track's incredibly brooding tone. I love it. Next is a track that's equally dark, "Other Location". The main guitar riff on the song is really eerie, and the song just keeps going down an even more sinister rabbit hole as it progresses. It keeps getting heavier and harder until it just seems to collapse in on itself. The texture on McKinney's guitar is really something, and Sidener's distorted bass that comes in around the 3 and a half minute mark is one of the more subtle changes to the texture, but it adds loads of atmosphere and makes it all even more crushing. It's incredible just how dark it gets, and I think it's amazing. The song "Risk" is the closest thing to an accessible punk song that I've heard Major Games pull, but oh my god. Doug McKinney's guitar on this track is INSANE. The heavy drumming and Sidener's vocals and bass make the track fantastic and heavy in it's own right, but McKinney really steals the show here. The high octave swells and bends are beautiful, and the heavy use of his whammy bar to create an intense vibrato add up to an amazing performance. It's just straight up mind warping, honestly. "BDBDBD" is kind of a slow burner like "Prism", but there's a very heavy payoff. The breakdown for the song is just absolutely bone chilling, you really need to experience it for yourself. "Burner" is another fast post-punk track that continues to get heavier and heavier as it goes. Jeremy Sidener's vocals on this track are particular noteworthy; I really love the emotional quality it has when he gets into his higher register and is shouting the lyrics. It just makes the whole thing particularly fist-pumping. McKinney's solo is also really solid as well, with his high octave playing and use of the whammy bar to create a really distinct and emotive sound. The album ends on "Voice", a very atmospheric and moving track that provides this album with the perfect finish. You can really feel every moment of this track; it's really wonderful and beautiful. And before you know it, all the instruments are seemingly swallowed in a sea of white noise that slowly fades out of existence.
This album is a masterwork of post-punk and shoegaze, full of emotion and volume. Major Games spent a long time putting in the effort to make this LP as good as it could be, and it really shows. All 3 members of this band put in their full energy to their respective instruments and talents, and it all sounds incredible. Whether the songs are fast and hard, or heavy and brooding, the group knows exactly how to display the emotions and mood of a track and put it on display in full force. And the mastering from drummer Steve Squire sounds fantastic. Major Games made an LP that I would consider almost flawless. This is definitely one of the best albums I've heard this year, and I will keep listening to it whenever I get a chance. I'd check it out as soon as you can. I want to thank the band for the extra effort they put in, because it comes through in how amazing the record turned out.