Committee To Keep Music Evil, 2008
REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/06/2008
The Byrds always had a psychedelic edge – some posit “Eight Miles High” was in fact the first psychedelic song ever. Whichever side of that argument you’re on, the argument itself comes immediately to mind upon being introduced to The Quarter After, part of the self-described “3rd Wave of Psychedelia” and a band that comes off like Roger McGuinn et al after an evening spent listening to Hendrix and the Moody Blues in various altered states of consciousness.
The Quarter After on paper might be termed an indie-rock supergroup with a brother-band twist. Rob and Dominic Campanella lead the way, with Dom featuring on vocals, Rickenbacker 12-string and songwriting, while Rob handles lead guitar(s) and production. They’re joined by bassist Dave Koenig (Spindrift, Brian Jonestown Massacre), drummer Nelson Bragg (Brian Wilson Band) and a horde of name guest stars including the likes of Ric Menck (Velvet Crush, The Tyde), Eric Heywood (Son Volt) and Probyn Gregory (Wondermints).
The band’s one-sheet also namedrops Teenage Fanclub, and you can hear it in the velvety hooks and crystalline harmonies, but the arrangements stretch out on tunes like the shimmering opener “Sanctuary” in ways that suggest jam and prog bands gone by. A number like “Nothing Out Of Something” might suggest an earthy CSNY dirge in the early going, but midsong Rob erupts in an extended solo that carries the song off into waves of shearing, gorgeous Wilco-esque distortion.
Country touches like the dobro used on “Counting The Score” and the slide on “Changes Near” might suggest a more conventional milieu, but they’re only launching pads for this group’s expansive musical vision. The latter title tune in particular blows up the pop-song template, managing to pack jangly riffs, the aforementioned dreamy slide accents, a stomping bridge, a jagged, twisting guitar solo and a thoroughly psychedelic lyric into of greatness.
What’s remarkable is how effectively the lilting Rickenbacker jangle on numbers like the spot-on Byrds-Revolver pastiches “She Revolves” and “Turning Away” melds with the album’s more iconoclastic moments like the rather Renaissance-flavored “Winter Song.” The success of these stylistic digressions make it easier to swallow when the boys invest “This Is How I Want You To Know” with a rather Kinksians thunder. You might have thought it wouldn’t work… but it does, and damned well. Same with “Early Morning Rider,” which captures a “wind in your hair” moment well, then surprises by employing trumpet accents to introduce the driving, jangle-licious chorus, and tripping off in the late going into a soaring guitar-trumpet fantasia.
Anyone who’s ever wondered what the musical path suggested by “Eight Miles High” might have sounded like taken to its logical extreme should really pick this one up. Richly melodic and darkly experimental, Changes Near is a mesmerizing ride through a musical funhouse of familiar sounds combined in fresh and challenging ways.