Tuesday, February 12, 2008

cd review - The Quarter After

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.

from Bootleg Magazine March 2007

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