The Quarter After – Changes Near

After almost three years the Campanellas and Co. are back with another gem. This time via the Massacree’s Anton Newcombe’s operation; not that Menck wasn’t hanging about, contributing various shaking things on various numbers. They’ve also tightened up things a bit, with half the dozen cuts here clocking in in under four minutes. But the first noticeable difference right up front is the overt rising of the Moody Blues (we’re talking the classic In Search Of The Lost Chord Moodys) to a level on par with the Q.A.’s Byrdsian revelry at the get go in Sanctuary. It’s not just the Mellotron washes, but in how they mesh with, and in of themselves, the elongated, reverbed vocal harmonies of the brothers Campanellas. It’s also there in the bubbly bass and tablas of the extended, instrumental middle section. Meanwhile the lead vocal and 12-strings in the verses maintains that Byrds affection.

Following on is a string of succulent mid-tempo rockers: She Revolves, Counting The Score, See How Good It Feels and Early Morning Rider. The first and third of which have a bit of garage-rock buzz and shimmer to them. The second is the oddball of the whole album, a twangin’ country-rock tune with most of the usual reverb and efx nicely peeled back. The last number in this run brings to mind a peppier, toughened up rendering of Wild Mountain Thyme with most of its vocals done in harmony – providing the third voice is a guesting Matthew Sweet. Surprisingly better in reality than on paper is the inserts of Probyn Gregory’s trumpet overdubs. The song could have been nicely faded out around the 3’ 40” mark, but it goes on for approximately another minute with this slightly cacophonous runout.

This works, to a degree, as a transition to the moodier middle section of the album: Nothing Out Of Something, a mid-tempo ballad with a gloss of Neil Young to it, including its status as the longest cut here at six minutes, plus. Changes Near adapts a prominent rhythm yet is crusted with pacific vocals and harmonies. Then there are the breaks of quietude. Conversely, for its extended runout a wah-wah-like guitar is amped up. Lastly, there is Winter Song a soft, haunted ballad in which the tablas reappear.

From there the tempo starts an upward move: There is the sweet, relatively terse, ringing McGuinnish Turning Away. Nodding back to their earlier guest Matthew Sweet (his early Zoo period) and his take on the form is the semi-rocker This Is How I Want To Know You. Follow Your Own Way is a somewhat hushed number in tone, though with an out front, ringing guitar and multi-layered vocals. The final tune, Sempre Avanti (approximately translates to “ever forward”, and is subtitled Johnny Marr Is Not Dead for reasons I know not why), is an extended number that moves on a train rhythm at mid-tempo. Equal parts jaunty (instrumentation, until the long runout) and melancholy (vocals, through not necessarily lyrically) yet always alluring.

[Released Committee To Keep Music Evil 2008]

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