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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

The Constantines
S/T (CD)

The debut album by the highly acclaimed Canadian group the Constantines was originally released in 2001. The Constantines hail from the unlikely metropolis of Guelph, Ontario. This is a reissue that is being rereleased by Sub Pop intended to hit their emerging American audience.

This is a strong debut album considering any band on their first effort rehash and spit out unoriginal, derivative, and usually undeveloped songs but the Constantines work well within their conservative limitations. The music is mostly emotional rock i.e. emo with some rough garage/punky edges it is a music path that has been mined to death but the Constatines show that there is still room to make it distinct and memorable. Starting this refreshing debut is "Arizona" a very memorable tune calling for the death of rock & roll and "Long Distance Four" is another gem a spiky enjoyable indie rock/pop ditty that sounds like early Bruce Springsteen humping Unrest. The difference between the Constantines and the other nameless and faceless indie bands in the same genre is that they are economical with their songs, adept at dynamics, and hook friendly. Lyrically, the Constantines also separate themselves from the pack with such glorious lines of misanthropy like, "my generation is a ghost town," which show they are actually singing from the gut too.

The group dynamics are admirable for a debut spanning from lite indie rock to high ocatane gargagey punk to lilting folky arrangements. The Constantines work within a fairly conservative framework but their memorable hooks, insightful lyrics, and their unusual trait of keeping songs short make them a brighter than average up and coming talent. The main strength in the Constantines equation are the vocals which are raspy, spirited, and varied especially for indie rock which at the moment is flooded with lackluster unimaginative frontmen. Bry Webb, the vocalist of the Constantines, sounds like a more mannered young Bruce Springsteen mixed with a less caustic Joe Strummer which is an added bonus.

If you are curious about a hidden gem especially a strong debut, originally released on Three Gut Records, check out the Constantines and discover their talent before it is too late.

- review by JULIAN RANT (9.20.04)        

Sub Pop Records
2514 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

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