June 20, 2005


The Quarter After.jpg

So-so psychedelia dominates audio identity crisis

The first track on a first album is as good a chance as any to make an impression, and here is the one The Quarter After makes through the first few minutes of its self-titled debut: "So Far To Fall" would fit squarely into the repertoire of its peers on the contemporary psychedelic pop scene.

This, however, is not necessary a compliment.

The song's most redeeming values -- the familiar jangle of Rickenbacker guitars and ethereal, echo-laden vocals that are to be expected from those with a predilection for Byrds-like harmonies -- have been better employed before by others. More importantly, the banality of the tune, which never produces a memorable hook and suffers from painfully cliche-ridden lyrics, makes it a disservice to the rest of the album (due July 12 on BirdSong/Parasol). For on many of the subsequent nine cuts, the Los Angeles-based quartet shows it has the ability to become much more than '60s revivalists.

That is made immediately clear on the second track, "Your Side Is Mine," which displays much more of a pulse, propelled by some biting guitar work as well as drummer Nelson Bragg's ever-present fills. Elsewhere, guitarists/vocalists Dominic and Robert Campanella recall some of their noteworthy forbearers on the L.A. scene -- The Long Ryders and Redd Kross, respectively -- with the energetic roots-rock of "Always Returning" and the expertly nailed mid-tempo power-pop of "A Parting."

The band further shows its versatility on "Mirror to You," a winning country-folk hymn of sorts that features layers of majestic, sun-splashed vocals by the brothers Campanella. Not all of the explorations on the disc are as fruitful -- particularly "Too Much to Think About," a spacey 12-minute cut that devolves into a jam that is ultimately too loose, long and unimaginative.

The sheer length of that track and a couple of other near-epics on the album suggest run-of-the-mill psychedelia still is where this fledgling group seems most comfortable. Here's hoping that changes on the second album, along with The Quarter After forging a stronger identity for itself and better executing that whole opening-track thing, too.

-- By George Henn

Posted by medleyville at June 20, 2005 05:44 PM