Try as he might, Anton Newcombe’s megalomaniac antics can’t ruin every post-Dig album his Committee To Keep Music Evil label puts out. Changes Near, the sophomore release from the Quarter After collective, proves this point in kaleidoscopic spades. The band centers on the brothers combo of singer-songwriter Dominic Campanella and lead guitarist, long time producer Rob, along with experienced bassist Dave Koenig and Brian Wilson drummer Nelson Bragg. There’s a laundry list of others who also had a hand in bringing this to you (including Matthew Sweet and Miranda Lee Richards) but none stick out more than Ric Menck (drummer for Velvet Crush and The Tyde). Though he’s mostly given tambourine duty here, Menck recently published his first book in the 33 1/3 series on The Byrds’ 1968 classic The Notorious Byrd Brothers. I can’t express to you how much that particular album influences the Quarter After sound. Their psychedelic country jangle is practically lifted verbatim from the later work of The Byrds, made even more apparent on Changes Near than on their quietly released debut.
It is a fine line between derivation and influence. The work of Quarter After exhibited on this perfectly transcendent piece of retro pop easily places them closer to the latter. As his swollen list of credits attests, Rob’s skills as a producer are unsurpassed. 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. The heart of the band is also much more open and inviting than the continually more depressing Brian Jonestown Massacre bitch-fest that follows Newcombe around. You can’t fake good-hearted fun. As such, Changes Near is a golden psych nugget on par with the entire Rainbow Quartz catalogue. Give ‘em another album or two and they may surpass David Crosby.