ALBUM REVIEW: The Constellations – Southern Gothic

by Winston "Stone" Ford

The ConstellationsSetback

The Constellations – Felicia

Excuse me if I rail against rock music again. I know that before every rock post on this site, it seems that I always write about how rock music has become popified, cheesy, and that I harken back to the darker, grungier days of the genre. That hasn’t changed.

But while the genre withers on the vine, there are some bands that are doing it right. Take Atlanta’s Constellations. We first profiled them back in 2008, and since then the group has been signed to Virgin Records and their stellar album, Southern Gothic, will be re-released to the masses this summer.

What sets this group apart is that they have masterfully combined the best elements of Southern Rock, dance music, and hip-hop, into a package that is unique without being trendy.

Like the literary genre from which the album takes its name, Southern Gothic paints the seedy side of their hometown of Atlanta. Far from the glass and steel skyscrapers and Olympic villages. The Constellations live on the other side of town, where nights at the Drunken Unicorn and the Clermont Lounge are the norm. Where people drink PBRs because it’s cheap…not because it’s cool.

From the trippy “Setback” to the circus like atmosphere of “Step On Down,” you can already tell this is not your typical rock album. Released in 2008, Gothic was ahead of it’s time. Cee-Lo makes an appearance (albeit kind of phoned-in) on “Love Is A Murder,” and the track “” contained a verse from a then unknown Asher Roth. Lead singer Elijah Jones has as much swagger as a Southern rapper, as his bluesy vocals gleefully compliment the bands sometimes off-kilter instrumentals.

My favorite song on the album is the bluesy number “Felicia,” which plays out like the sexiest of R&B songs: “Felicia, I think I really really need ya/So Sexy when you workin’  your knees girl…” But the beautiful thing about Southern Gothic is that you can’t put it into a box. The pop-accessible “On My Way Up” sounds nothing like the electro-tinged “Where Here To Save the Day and so on an so. But on the flip, it doesn’t try to hard to be “left” or “alternative” like some albums which are littering the landscape.

The Constellations will be playing DC9 on May 3rd. Ticket Giveaway SOON!

  • Johnathan J.

    This album has been out for a loooooooong time. I mean it’s been at least 2 years. I agree that it is a pretty good album it has guest appearances with Asher Roth and Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley and Goodie M.O.B.) I’m wondering how come you guys are just now reviewing it. I really like the song they have with Cee-Lo, Love is Murder and also the track Take a Ride.

  • Johnathan J.

    Hahaha! Guess I should read the article before posting a comment. Sorry.

  • @StellasKid

    First track reminds me of some Madchester baggy-type sounds (Stone Roses, Charlatans, Happy Mondays, etc.) or maybe even Chemical Brothers’ rock-leaning stuff. The second track reminds me of post-Mondays group, Black Grape but mostly because of the singer’s Shaun Ryder-esque vocal style more so than the music.

  • the fifth beatle

    the song is called “Step Right Up” and is a Tom Waits cover… and setback is the best song on the album, albeit it’s a sped-up version of “tomorrow never knows” by the Beatles.

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