The Changes
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The Changes

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The best kept secret in music



All the lip service paid to our semi-recent indie rock idols (the '90s are the new '80s, by the way) seems a little silly in the face of "When I Wake," a devastating single from Chicago's the Changes. The percolating guitars scream Andy Summers, a bit of Sea and Cake jazz tickles the rhythms, and Pavement-y, death-by-reverb feedback heralds the track's end, but the chorus' wide-eyed melancholy is as timeless, reference-free, and honest as they come. The bells and whistles underpinning the band's recent self-titled EP aren't quite groundbreaking, but a well-written song need not freak out the squares — the Changes are a great band with great music, and that's a precious thing - Flavorpill

"The Tripwire"

Part of a review for Life During Wartime’s 2nd anniversary at The Hideout...
. Friday night's special guest was none other than local stand outs The Changes. The band has been slowly building their following over the course of the last few years, steadily building up a solid fan base and a substantial "buzz" among the city's music community. This month will be a big one for The Changes, as they are gearing up for their first tour... ever. Culminating with two shows in NYC (May 17 @ Rothko, May 18 Mercury Lounge), The Changes will tackle the East Coast, bringing their smooth indie dance music to the awaiting masses. The Changes have all the tools needed to make the step to the next level. They have the songs, the energy, the confidence and an artistic vision of where they want their band to go.

The hometown crowd packed the house on Friday and greeted the band with a friendly welcome as they took the stage. Already with their dancing shoes on, the crowd was ready to shake it from song one. And The Changes weren't about to let anyone down. They ran through a quick set that made it clear why they have drawn so many comparisons to The Police in the local press. Danceable rhythms and boyish good looks notwithstanding, the band's irresistible pop melodies and charming on stage persona are the highlights of their live performance and it's great to see another Chicago band pois - The Tripwire

"TimeOut Chicago"

Local darlings The Changes are very Fall, very Police and very fun – expect great things form these guys.

It’s a fundamental rule of pop music that the farther away you are from a music’s country of origin, the better you’ll be at imitating it (look at the Rolling Stones and Green Day). That’s why Chicago’s The Changes are the best band reliving the choicest parts of the 80’s anglophilia and the U.K.’s Kaiser Chiefs fall flat on their face doing the same thing. - TimeOut Chicago


Continuing in my tour of OPLs (Other People's Lists), I found this gem — amidst Blockhead, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Comets on Fire — on Scissorkick's eclectic hit parade of 2004. (Convenient comparison alert!) The Changes are modern-day Chicago's answer to Haircut 100: bouncy, dreamy pop that makes you want to smile at complete strangers or maybe, just maybe, swing from a vine in a Hawaiian shirt. However, unlike Haircut 100, these guys appear to have a longer career in them. -

"Movement Magazine"

"With every passing moment gone / Another Up, Another Down / Completely unbelievable..." I'll tell you what's completely unbelievable, that a band as amazing as The Changes doesn't have a record deal. This song is so rich in echoey xylophones, haunting whistlings and sweet snares with tiny hints of guitar that it will push your ears further and further into ecstasy until you think it can't possibly get any better. Then they hit the GIGANTIC percussion build and frenzied chaos and I'm left shaking my head back and forth wondering what else it could possibly take to win over the hearts of the music industry's A&R reps. -


It seems like November is slowly turning into Chicago music month here on scissorkick. Without any planning, we've already posted Quantazelle, Sam Prekop and L'altra (with Pit er Pat on the way), and today you get a nugget from Windy City locals The Changes who are quickly becoming a Fall favorite on the heels of their excellent EP, "The Machinery" available here. As is a prerequisite for carrying the infamous "The" prefix in a band name, you can expect some garage rock tendencies but delivered in a much more complex package that balances jazz-rock (Steely Dan, Sea & Cake), dance punk (check the break in "The Machine"), and breezy indie prep-school groove (Death Cab, Aluminum Group) with a vintage 80s sound recalling the The Fall and Police. They are most certainly a band on the cusp of great things and I bet my nearly 30 years that they will take over the indie press as soon as a full-length drops. You can listen to six more tracks on their Web site by clicking here.

"Illinois Entertainer"

Part of a live review for The Futureheads/The Changes show...
No joke surrounds The Changes, as the Chicago band showed signs that it is morphing into something serious. Previous bouts with their stream of EPs haven't wrought much by way of focus or agenda, but Wednesday's peak form indicated that all the songs have been rounded out effectively. While it would be easier to sit there and play Pick Out The British Influences, most of The Changes' live charm comes from the fact that they're equally as good as the French Kicks and aside from their music's intricacy, it's inviting and accessible all the same.

"Chicago Reader"

These locals have just returned from New York, where they snagged a slot on the same crowded CMJ showcase as the M's on the strength of a self-released EP, First Of May - and it's lilting, invitingly simple pop rock also has a label or two sniffing at their pant legs. (A new song, "When I Wake," made the rounds on a monthly trade compilation in September - it's available as an MP3 at They don't reinvent or even retrofit jangly guitar pop - think the Byrds in the 60s or R.E.M. in the 80s - but simply play the stuff with endearing dedication, cutting not a single corner, so that even the inside seams look clean. -

"The Onion"

Local band The Changes clearly finds some inspiration in new wave, but not in the dreary, more serious end of the spectrum that's such a common influence these days.  Instead, the group jumps cheerily around songs that nod toward The Police and ABC.  The only Changes release so far is last year's First Of May EP, but it's spent time recently recording new material.

"Delusions Of Adequacy"

I'm not certain why The Changes picked that name for their band, but as we say in Hebrew, “ki’shmam ken hem” (they are as their name). The Changes bring a different sound, pace, intensity, and allusion to each of the five songs on the band’s debut EP, First of May. The Chicago-based foursome has been around for almost two years and features Darren Spitzer on vocals and guitar, bassist Rob Kallick, the drumming of Jonny Basofin, and David Rothblatt’s songwriting and guitar-playing talent. The band’s playing consistently impresses, especially because of the stylistic shift from song to song.

“Her, You and I” opens with guitars that remind of Vini Reilly’s trademark arpeggios throughout the 80s. However, The Durutti Column similarities end when Spitzer starts singing with tempered emotion that rises in volume and speed along with the intensifying drums and bass. Almost exactly halfway through the song, The Changes suddenly slice the rhythm and abandon the vocals, while advanced guitars and Basofin’s snare come to the forefront. “Her, You and I” exceeds six minutes in its musical journey and closes with a raucous jam that compels you to dance or at least shake your head.

“Why Did You Wait So Long?” is post-punk of the highest order, with a rhythm section that recalls early, ambitious output by The Durutti Column, but Spitzer’s vocals are more powerful than anything Reilly ever released. The rest of The Changes’ vocal interplay gives the song a haunting, insular ambience that makes “Why Did You Wait So Long?” the highlight of the EP. “That’s Not True” opens with crunching guitars and fast beats, as Basofin continues his outstanding drumming. Echoes of Adrian Borland’s passionate masterpieces with The Sound come to mind courtesy of the intensity on “That’s Not True.” Spitzer’s voice is altered on the chorus with lo-fi tricks, which work because the band understands that less is more. This is aggressive post-punk, and it’s refreshing in the contexts of both the EP and what everyone else is offering.

For “1984,” the band introduces jazzy guitars and rhythms for 30 seconds of lighter atmosphere, and then the mood changes as the band builds a menacing instrumental. The song’s only lyrics are the repeated line, “I only care about myself” for the last minute. No one can accuse The Changes of not having a sense of humor, and their sense of purpose is equally audible on “Such a Scene.” It’s the only track on First of May that would have been out of place in the 80s, when too many people only cared about themselves and never enough about exciting guitar rock with ideal amounts of noise, like that found on “Such a Scene.” Spitzer’s voice sounds distant, the fuzzy guitars come out, and Kallick and Basofin offer killer bass lines and drumming. Rothblatt proves he is a great songwriter and player on this energetic EP closer.

First of May is a spectacular debut EP from a band hungry to show the world just what it can do. The Changes are excellent players, with unquestioned ability on their instrumentals and the ideal amount of emotion in their voices. They don’t pretend or copy; they simply create appealing post-punk that spans the genre’s spectrum, from melancholic tension to ambitious, fast rock. This is an impressive EP with five strong songs, and I eagerly await The Changes’ first full-length record.

- Sahar, 12/16/03


"The Changes" EP - released Spring of 2005

"First of May" EP - released Winter of 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Changes are the next big thing to burst out of Chicago. With two self-released EPs under their belt and opening slots at venerable clubs the Metro and Double Door for the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Stephen Malkmus, The Futureheads, Ted Leo, the Walkmenthis foursome has already proven its ability to hold its own against some of today’s biggest buzz bands. But, don’t discredit them as a mere opening act – The Changes has sold out headlining shows at some of Chicago’s top spots, including Schubas and indie stalwart Empty Bottle.

The Changes have slowly, but profoundly, built up a fan base with its progressive indie rock sound that, truth be told, really should not get pigeonholed with a label. Sexy guitar licks backing sultry, poignant vocals puts The Changes in a class by themselves. While comparisons to The Police, Phoenix and Steely Dan fly around, The Changes continue to tweak their sound and morph into a band in its own category, crafting what can best be called intelligent rock.

Chicago’s Reader agrees: “[The Changes] don't reinvent or even retrofit jangly guitar pop - think the Byrds in the ‘60s or R.E.M. in the ‘80s - but simply play the stuff with endearing dedication, cutting not a single corner, so that even the inside seams look clean.”

While a revolution is currently charging through the music world, The Changes is poised to come out the other side a leader. Like the name suggests, a change is underfoot – and it goes beyond the ‘80s throwback, post-punk rockers currently dominating the music press. This is just the beginning. Like The Onion stated, “The Changes clearly finds some inspiration in new wave, but not in the dreary, more serious end of the spectrum that's such a common influence these days.”

Keep in mind The Changes are still an unsigned band, yet the growing buzz spreading around the internet is undeniable. Leading online radio stations and . continue to include Changes’ tunes in their playlists – an unusual move since they don’t regularly play unsigned bands.

Having made their impression in and outside of their hometown, The Changes were invited by Lollapalooza organizers to help represent Chicago’s music scene for the two-day music festival this summer -- proving again The Changes stand out.

The Changes recently completed an eight-date East Coast tour starting with a hometown send-off on May 13th at Schubas. After a night in Philadelphia, The Changes hit New York City for two shows, Rothko on May 17th and The Mercury Lounge the next night. Be one of the first to discover this gem and understand why prominent music blog Scissorkick said The Changes “are most certainly a band on the cusp of great things.”