BILLY CHANGER: SELF-TITLED
Billy Changer has the name of the everyman in a Philip K. Dick story, and like the everyman in a Philip K. Dick story, there may be something special about him—something powerful even—that he neither knows about nor fully controls. This self-titled LP—originally one side of a split tape with Corners bandmate and frontman Tracy Bryant—is an understandably uneven listen. It was put together more from experiences that transformed into songs than as a plotted album, so you can’t ever be sure what’s coming next. Maybe an experiment: “Black Angel,” like the very early Spacemen 3 when they couldn’t quite keep their heads held up, with intently reverent subway-sound Velvet Underground guitar. Maybe a scene from a movie never made: instrumental “Chiller” is strange and a stand-out for it, a song with vibes so heavy it needed like an actual vibraphone. It’s urgent, nervous, even menacing—a walk alone as headlights flash off your back. Or maybe a deep one like “Sweet Time,” a Daniel Johnston heartbroke valentine with loose-as-hell Sticky Fingers production. Side two is where the album starts to dissolve into itself, where the songs can’t quite hold to each other and Changer brings out the slide guitar to show just how slidey everything can be. By closer “You’re My Girl,” we’re in a Flies On Sherbert waking dream with a song so loose it’s suddenly all around you. What makes this album far different from the usual “I made this!” autobio recordings are the vast wells of tension and want and id within—and the way the songs drift uneasily above them, sometimes warping and distorting in ways you’d never expect. “Band of Brothers” seems like it must just be about a night out with friends … but there is something staggeringly desperate and even tragic happening there, too. It’s like a song from a car going off a cliff—a snapshot of the instant just before moving forward becomes falling down. If there’s a Joy Divison influence at work here, it comes in three places: the lockstep rhythm at the second half of the resolute “Island Fever,” the razor’s-edge production precision and then these stark and fearless moments at the precipice. Changer always brings you back, but I wonder if that’s even scarier—he does know the edge is there, right?