- Robin Murray
Over forty years from Summer of Love, its psychedelic effects are still being felt. US rockers The Quarter After have clearly tuned in and dropped out to the sounds of San Francisco, but have a dense, swirling sound. Reminiscent of a young REM, 'Changes Near' is a wonderful blend of '60's pop and psych-rock. Singer Dominic Campanella's vocals are hidden deep in the mix, hinting at a melancholy buried in the Californian desert. 'Counting the Score' introduces elements of country, if Hank Williams had used LSD instead of bourbon, while the title track is a rage epic with sitar-like guitars doing cosmic battle with a pedal steel. Turn off your mind, tune in your ears; it's time for The Quarter After.
- Andy Morten
Brothers Dominic and Robert Campanella pop up, Zelig-like, all over the tangled fabric of South California guitar pop. As well as fronting The Quarter After they’re tied to, er, The Tyde, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Beachwood Sparks, The Warlocks and countless other Cuban heeled, Ricky-wielding purveyors of retrodelia, LA model.
Their second outing finds them mining the same holy grail of Byrds and Rain Parade that coloured their debut, although this time there’s a whole lot more oomph, both in the production and in the playing, particularly that of newly installed drummer Nelson Bragg – another man who can lay claim to being in 20 bands at any given time.
At times Dominic’s McGuinn/Clark vocal mannerisms are uncanny but ultimately distract too much from the songs – I’d like to hear him sound like himself a little more, even when the material does sound like it came straight off Fifth Dimension or Roadmaster. When the band is really firing on all cylinders – as they do on several slices of backwards tape-strewn psych jangle here – they could be the best Sunset Strip folk-rock act of the century.
- Brian Tucker
Hailing from Los Angeles, The Quarter After’s new release Changes Near, echoes a period of music reaching back forty years or so, of bands like The Byrds and The Grateful Dead, who embraced rock guitar and complimented it with sky high harmonies and gentle, wispy vocals.
Lead singer Dominic Campanella alternates vocally, from even keeled vocals on ‘Sempre Avanti’ and ‘Early Morning Rider’ to what sounds like Tom Petty’s brother on ‘Turning Away’ and ‘See How Good It Feels’ – that song’s heart built around mid-west rock and roll. Dominic’s vocals twist and turn, nasally and velvet smooth all at once. The denouement of the track is guitar groaning coupled with soothing chorus that flitters away with the trickle of piano notes. ‘Counting the Score’ is a kicking country number, one that would make The Grateful Dead appreciative.
But while there’s a sweet (and obvious) laid back appeal to the album, there’s the specter of ghosts, of something elusive and perhaps mysterious to material on Changes Near. It breaks beautifully through the surface on ‘Nothing out of Something’ in which the band channels Broken Arrow era Neil Young and Crazy Horse with its moodiness and rusted surface guitar groans. ‘Winter Song’ is tempered, and patient, but is paced as if something is about burst free – perhaps its created by Miles Shrewsbury on the Tablas or Andy Campanella using something as simple (and perfect) as an egg shaker to lace the song.
The album doesn’t drown in folk rock, it may be the foundation, but there’s much boiling to the surface in varied flavors. From the trumpets on ‘Early Morning Rider’ to handclaps and jingle bells, The Quarter After mine anything as a instrument to craft a layered musical landscape. The majority of Changes Near is blanketed with a dreamy quality and it soars, echoing not just the past but the springtime escapades of future days.
Changes Near : A Family Affair
For two brothers growing up in Southern California, it's only natural they might be influenced by the magical music wafting out of Laurel Canyon, even if most of that magic occurred while they were still a glimmer in their famous father's eye. Dominic and Rob Campanella (sons of actor Joseph) have recorded their second album with their group The Quarter After, and we all know that sophomore efforts can sometimes suffer (especially because of expectations).
The new album, Changes Near, delivers all of the goods we heard on their debut and more. Though featuring a wide variety of sounds and styles, it's a stronger, more cohesive effort, and their songwriting and musical maturity shines. Bass player Dave Koenig's opening riff kicks off "Sanctuary," a driving, rhythmic song that drops into a spacey reverie before kicking back in again. At times you can hear early R.E.M. The next track, "She Revolves," is about as perfect as rock music gets, and not just because of Dominic's "worthy heir to Gene Clark" vocals. The electric 12 string and 6 string counterplay had me literally bouncing around in my chair as I wrote this. Love the phrasing of "I fell into a conversation with her, and she spoke just like a brand new day," and Rob has some fun with his wonderful breakdown as the song concludes.
On the rollicking "Counting The Score," they skillfully move into Dillards territory, and then it's back to rock 'n' roll (and even some power chords) with "See How Good It Feels." The cow punk feel of "Early Morning Rider" breaks with "are you going to ride away," and we do, on a wave of trumpets and cascading guitars. "Nothing out of Something" is a powerful centerpiece, with that great guitar crunch reminiscent of a former resident of another nearby Southern California canyon. Angelic harmonies courtesy of Miranda Lee Richards, Mara Keagle (The Electromagnetic), and another Campanella, Christina.
"Changes Near" was co-written by brother Andy (he also provides a variety of percussion on the album), and after the opening chimes of Dom's 12 string, the song slows with some tasty pedal steel from Eric Heywood that would make Sneaky Pete proud. After the march drum break and a vocal crescendo, we're treated to a psychedelic guitar flourish from Rob on his Vox that might be my favorite moment on the album. "Winter Song" is all ethereal grandeur with tablas and mellotron to round out this wonderful soundscape (do I actually hear echoes of Zeppelin for a moment?).
We cleanse our palate with "Turning Away" before the superb intro to "This Is How I Want To Know You," which may or may not be a little nod to Rob's good friend Anton Newcombe. It builds with strong guitar interplay, and we hear the beautiful Campanella brother harmonies , which are showcased to an even greater extent on the next song, "Follow Your Own Way," co-written by drummer Nelson Bragg. The album's finale, "Sempre Avanti," is a tribute to their Uncle Frank, a renowned character actor who passed away in 2006. Subtitled "Johnny Marr's Not Dead," it features some of that renowned "How Soon Is Now" tremelo, especially in the haunting coda.
The overall production quality is absolutely first rate, which is no surprise considering the fine work Rob has done producing and engineering for The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dead Meadow, The Tyde, Beachwood Sparks, et al. Though the influences are plentiful, who these guys really sound like is ... The Quarter After. They've carved their own musical niche. They're going out on tour, and it will be interesting to see which of these songs they turn into a psychefunkadelic juggernaut live. I'm betting on "Sanctuary," "Early Morning Rider," or "Sempre Avanti." I had the pleasure of watching them blow the roof off in Sacramento one night with "Too Much Too Think About" off their first album. I literally wore out that CD, and you and I will be doing the same with Changes Near. By the way, if you go to the Committee To Keep Music Evil website, you can buy a blue vinyl single with an edit of "Too Much" and a cover of the rare Stone Roses ditty, "Here It Comes." The highlight is really the acoustic guitar instrumental work that the Campanellas provide after the conclusion of that song. Just more magic from this amazing band.
(click on each link for full review)
Psychadelica Three (PDF)
Changes Near (PDF)
Recisioni (PDF in Italian)
Psychadelica Three (Music compilation)
Kevin Harley Review
Here's two CD's of 'third-wave' psych from the malign fug of the Black Angels to the Quarter After's jangle-core...
The Quarter After have produced a pretty flawless take on the folk-pop and West Coast psychedelia of the late 60s...
The Asteroid no. 4 and the Quarter After are finally back touring the UK – hurrah!...
The bright, harmonized, richly dynamic sheen on this record is not a parody of groundbreaking ‘60s sound, but a shining example of it still vibrating in the 21st century.
Barnes and Noble.com
For two brothers growing up in Southern California, it's only natural they might be influenced by the magical music wafting out of Laurel Canyon...
The Quarter After’s formation in 2000 marked the first attempt at an individualistic effort for both Dominic and Rob, though Rob’s collaborative involvement with artists like Brian Jonestown Massacre dates back nearly a decade. He worked with frontman Anton Newcombe on a variety...
Get out the racy narrow rectangular blue shades and the Rickenbacker, you’re going to need them...
When the vocals kick in during opening track "Sanctuary", the listener is quickly treated to a mid-era REM style of indiepop.
The Daily Vault
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...
OnlineRock - Empowering Musicians
Changes Near is dosed with Los Angeles rock history (not to mention a heady helping of Brit rebel cool and Northern California psychedelic swagger);
twelve tracks drenched through with grass-stained guitar strains and
whirling On-The-Road, sun flare seduction.