One of my unique traits is being enthusiastic about things that a lot of other people aren’t. It’s not that I’m a contrarian, it’s more a matter of being excited about finding new things that feel like closely-held secrets. When it comes to music, I’m always in search of something new. And it’s not that I get bored with stuff I already know about—far from it. But that’s one of the things that drew me to writing about music in the first place: Finding out about new music and hearing something that I didn’t know about before, and by extension continuously expanding my vocabulary, finding new ways to listen to music.
Then again, sometimes I’m enthusiastic about an album because it’s Extremely My Shit. Constantines are one of those bands, a mix of post-hardcore and heartland rock that basically checks off several boxes that guarantee Jeff Will Like This. Shine A Light, Constantines’ second album, came out when I was 21, the summer before my senior year of college, and I was pretty much listening to a steady diet of Springsteen’s Nebraska and the usual Jawbox/Shiner/Fugazi/Dismemberment Plan that pretty much still makes regular rotation for me. Then this album comes along and smashes those two sounds together. It was one of my favorites of that year, and still is really. Even if it’s rare that I find another person who shares the same enthusiasm for Constantines that I do.
To prove what I’m talking about here, I’ve gone to see the band four times, and only one of those instances were they headlining. Once I drove up to LA to see them open for the Weakerthans (and left before the Weakerthans played). Once I saw them open for The Hold Steady, who were great. And once I saw them play a set during a hot afternoon at SXSW. My wife was there for a few of these but barely remembers it. They happened though. I assure you. And this illustrates my point: I’m the guy who goes to shows to see the opening band. (Not enough people do that imo—show the openers some love!)
This album is fantastic though, heavy but nuanced, abrasive but soulful, melodic but intense. The title track is a favorite of mine, but the horn section during the final chorus of “Insectivora,” the riffs in “Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright)”, the slow, sinister groove of “Goodbye Baby and Amen.” God damn. What an album.
So yeah, it still feels like a closely held secret, but you should definitely explore Constantines when you get a chance. They were (are?) amazing.
Sound Quality: Great (one side a little off center but I did a little spindle surgery)