Album Review: The Constellations – Southern Gothic

May 2, 2010
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The Constellations - Southern GothicTitle: Southern Gothic
Artist: The Constellations
Label: Virgin Records
Released: 22 June 2010
In one word: Groovetastic

Listening to Southern Gothic takes you on a walk through the Atlanta streets and booze houses, after hours looking for trouble. “Let’s take a ride, and put the pedal down to the floor. Let’s lose our minds like we did so many nights before.” On Myspace the eight piece band self-describe their sound as “a psychedelic soul-rock explosion”, and their influences include Gnarls Barkley, Tom Waits, and Cee-Lo of Goodie Mob who supplies guest vocals on track “Love Is A Murder”. Southern Gothic took 2 years to write and record, and is lead singer  Elijah Jones and band’s concept album on the twisted night life and the interesting night life creatures that inhabit Atlanta after hours.

The album starts off strong with song “Setback”. It’s a groovy little psychedelic hiphop number that uses maraca and tambourine shaking, and interesting vocal harmonies to create these danceable beats. The whole album is danceable, and if it feels like it spans a whole spectrum of genres, this is in staying true to the sound of the Atlanta night where Jones says hiphop fans, punks, and indie kids all end up partying together.

Through the album lyrics, Jones takes you on a vice tour of his city complete with alcohol, drugs, and loose women like the sexy succubus that’s the subject of funk song “Felicia”. “We’re Here To Save The Day” features guest vocals from Jones’ young niece and nephew, funky reggae stylings, and some help from rapper Asher Roth. It’s also one of my favourite tunes on the album. “December” is a frosty synthesized dance number for a goth dance party and “Love Is A Murder” featuring electro artist Cee-Lo sounds like Ed Banger Records with horrorpop lyrics. On the other side of the album, the second last track “Remurder Is A Lovemix” is a pared down reprisal and revisit to “Love Is A Murder”. The album ends with the stripped down but hopeful, almost accapella tune “On My Way Up”.

Strangely, the one track on the eleven track record that I was most anticipating wasn’t included on my copy of the album. It’s a tribute to a Tom Waits song from 1976 called “Small Change”, and the track titled “Step Right Up” is over nine minutes in length. I guess I will just have to wait for the official re-release of the album on June 22nd to hear that one – (this album had been released independently in 2008 but will now be released with the major label support of Virgin Records this summer.)

All in all the album is an easy good time, perfect for boozing with friends before sliding out for a late night on the city.

You can catch The Constellations performing tunes from Southern Gothic this month during their North America tour – and be sure to check out our ticket and vinyl giveaway for the show at Mod Club in Toronto on 7 May!

© Natascha Malta, Music Vice

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