The Quarter After – Changes Near

The Quarter After
Changes Near

The opening track of The Quarter After’s Changes Near tells you a lot about the album you’re about to hear. The Campanella brothers clearly have a keen sense of melody and they draw from a full compliment of musical knowledge to write their songs. You can hear everything from the Zombies to REM to CSNY in a single tune on this record, but The Quarter After’s songs are best when taken at face value.

Songwriting-wise, Dominic Campanella writes excellent pop hooks in a 60’s style, but he’s not without modern influence. Most of his stuff surely recalls folk rock giants like Neil Young and The Byrds, but the songs are really not unlike Belle & Sebastian’s, which also pay homage to musicians of the past while sounding modern. The surrounding instruments provide a psychedelic haze over the songs, but Dom’s songs are mostly the focus. His voice leaves a little to be desired, but I guess that’s typical in the grand tradition of 60’s folk singers.

The guitar work is really the highlight here. Rob Campanella and a host of guest musicians shred from beginning to end. “Counting The Score,” for example, is a Gram Parsons-style country jam with Rob playing the dobro and friend Christof Certik playing some awesome slide guitar from beginning to end. “See How Good It Feels” is clearly the intended “hit” here, with a big Drive-By Truckers type rock sound, and Rob rips through a solo here too a mere minute into the song. There is some overplaying at times and the near-unforgivable mistake of having Matthew Sweet guest on the album without putting a guitar in his hands (backup vocals?), but for the most part, any guitar nerd will enjoy it.

Changes Near is by no means a flawless album, but it’s definitely got songs on it that any music fan can enjoy without having to pick apart or think about. It’s got a comfortable, yet artistic, psych glow with some admirable pop songwriting, it’s fairly adventurous, and it recalls any number of bands you’re most likely into. If you can’t find at least something to enjoy about this album, you probably don’t like music.