SPANNING THE DECADES The Blood Moons.
It was another year and another 20 or so releases from 75orLess, the Warren-based independent label run by Mark MacDougall, which cleaned up in our Best Music Poll, with 75orLess artists voted victorious in nine categories. The label has already struck again — this time via vinyl — as Six Star General, which features MacDougall on bass, and the Blood Moons team up for a split 12-inch platter of gnarled garage rock, with Six Star working in a few extra layers of stoner fuzz on These Woods Smell Like Grape, while the crunchy, love-gone-awry numbers on the Blood Moons' self-titled side find singer/guitarist Chris Guaraldi (who started out with his "garage pop punk-core" outfit Chris Evil & the Taints) channeling early Devo, Dinosaur Jr, and Mission of Burma.
The New Bedford-based quartet has a knack for catchy, midtempo hooks; "You Don't Love Me Anymore" opens the double-EP with a nod to Guaraldi's affinity for "1960s garage rock and 1980s college rock," as he stated via email. "Glassy Eyes" and "What You Do To Me" are standouts, but "You're Alone" steals the show.
Drummer Dan Ulmschneider joined SSG mates MacDougall and guitarist Kyle Jackson on a full-time basis following the release of '09's Take Your Teeth Out (Dan also plays drums for labelmates Coma Coma, voted Best Local Act and Album at the BMPs). His skills behind the kit have elevated Six Star's overall sound, particularly onstage, where you'll usually hear a few phonetic chants of "oolm-sha-vi-daaah!" while he bashes with Jackson's wah-wah fury and MacDougall's chugging basslines.
"We're still figuring out everything Dan is capable of," MacDougall said. "He's also an amazing singer and does a badass Michael McDonald impression."
On the new disc, the trademark squalls of distortion provided by Kyle and his pedal board ignite the B-side opener, "Sonic Boom," along with plenty of Crybaby pedal fuzz on the following "Manchester Divided." "Gasoline" is a slow burner similar to classic SSG cuts like "Fixin' the Fan with Bo" and "Ode to Cheryl Ladd" from 2009's Spaceship to Planet Cookie. Slick MacDougall's voice is gruffer than ever, and sounds like he's sailing off a cliff on personal favorite "No Know No." SSG are known for their wide-ranging covers (from Credence Clearwater to Butthole Surfers and a bloodthirsty rendition of the Flaming Lips' "Jesus Shooting Heroin"), and here we get a vocal duet with Jodie Treolar on T. Rex's "Life's a Gas."
A limited press run of 200 LPs was released last month, with screenprinted, hand-numbered jackets fresh from MacDougall's garage, which doubles as the 75orLess production center. The disc is available at 75orlessrecords.com ($15 with shipping), and includes an instant download link.
The trio recently teamed up with producer and friend Kraig Jordan at Plan of A Boy studio (housed in a small garage), where some of Six was recorded, and they just wrapped up Splinter, another full-length, which is due out in March. "Recording with Kraig has taught us to start thinking about the layers of the music," MacDougall told me earlier this week. "Kraig is always picking up new gear and plug-ins, and we are the proud Plan of a Boy studio gear guinea pigs."