The Constantines - Shine A Light (Cover Artwork)

The Constantines

The Constantines: Shine A LightShine A Light (2003)
Three Gut Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

While its often overlooked in favour of genre categorization, one can address music as traditionalist or progressive. A record written with tradition in mind can be understood on a very primal level and is fully grounded in reality. Once can feel this to an extreme in roots blues and reggae al.
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While its often overlooked in favour of genre categorization, one can address music as traditionalist or progressive. A record written with tradition in mind can be understood on a very primal level and is fully grounded in reality. Once can feel this to an extreme in roots blues and reggae albums. The instrumentation is typically sparse and not incredibly complicated, but songs are simply dripping with heart and soul. A progressive record, on the other hand, is somewhat removed from day-to-day life. It's more complicated, artistic, and sacrifices the some of its humanity for harsh, aggressive and innovative sounds. Fugazi's a band that's made lots of progressive strides, but often looses the comforting aspect of a good rock song along the way. I can listen to Red Medicine and be amazed at the band's art and message, but I can't imagine someone belting out "Bed For The Scraping" from the corner of a dimly lit bar.

When punk music is too traditional, you tend to have simplistic street punk albums. There isn't much under the surface, but damn does it feel good to shout along in the crowd. The opposite extreme can be seen in the recent onslaught of post-hardcore records. Their progressive rock influences borders on pretension, often resulting in initial awe and zero lasting connections with the music.

The Constantines mean so much to be because they transcend these archetypes. In any given song they can touch on 50-year-old rock elements and yet push forwards.

Musically The Cons are often compared to Fugazi. They share the same love for angular, swirling guitar play and rhythmic, dub-influenced songs. However while MacKaye's latter work presents a cold, extreme message of urban alienation, The Constantines take on that subject with much more grit and bare reality. Couple this with a strong roots rock influence that would make Strummer proud and you've begun to describe the band's sound.

Like on their debut, vocalist Bryan Webb seamlessly shifts from harsh guttural verses (think Hot Water Music) into lulling, quiet moments (the clich├ęd Springsteen comparison works well here). These extremes play out as the album moves from the raging "National Hum," through the industrial clamour of "Nighttime / Anytime (It's Alright)" to downright gentle and inspiring songs like "Young Lions." The title track is perhaps the album's most complete moment as keyboardist Will Kidman's haunting opening leads to a dynamic song that best summarizes the band's approach to songwriting. The harmonica on the country-influenced "Sub-Domestic" makes me smile whenever I hear it.

Shine A Light
feels important. The band manages to marry the accomplishments of the post-punk scene with the honesty of traditional rock that's often forgotten. Like all great bands, The Constantines straddle contradictory descriptions.



People who liked this also liked:
The Constantines - Tournament of HeartsThe Constantines - Kensington HeightsThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundFugazi - The ArgumentAgainst Me! - White CrossesJapandroids - Celebration RockThe Loved Ones - Keep Your HeartJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
muktar (April 12, 2008)

score for review, havnt checked out album, will be sure to now.

skoalkodiac (February 16, 2008)

awesome album, they really sound like fugazi fronted by bruce springsteen. straight up.

Anonymous (February 13, 2004)

I bought this from work today on Vinyl. Have a heard one song from it yet? Nope. Its posts like the ones listed below that make music fucking exciting. Not one bad thing was said about this band? Not one thing. Wow the cream really does rise to the top eh?


Anonymous (February 12, 2004)

this album rocks. i saw them in st. louis with the weakerthans and thought they stole the show.

Anonymous (December 27, 2003)

really good review; I heard "On to You" for the first time a month ago; now I've ordered this album and anxiously await its arrival

Anonymous (August 23, 2003)

this is an excellent album.

Anonymous (August 23, 2003)

the lowest of the low are the best canadian band today.

hungryjoe (August 21, 2003)

I think this has "Juno" written all over it.

relay1112 (August 21, 2003)


Anonymous (August 21, 2003)

So now I've got around to spinning this thing two or three times, and I will say it is amazing. A progression yes, but also a step forward and in the right direction. Some mellower moments, some really hard rocking parts and even some surprises we have not heard on Constantines releases before.

I truly hope this band stays true to themselves and their fans. I just said it a few posts earlier but, they are THE BEST CANADIAN BAND TODAY!!! They are creative, rocking and all around intersting. For anyone undecided about this group, forget it. Get the new album, the first "s/t" album or any of the EPs. A great band worthy of your money and support.

Anonymous (August 21, 2003)

I am really getting into this band. thanks adam

Anonymous (August 19, 2003)

This band is the best band in Canada today. I've been listening to the "Nighttime Anytime" EP for about a month now and I just got the full length today. Anxiously awaiting the new release..... This group is good on so many levels. I wouldn't be able to accurately describe their sound either, but I think "very good" is suffice.

Anonymous (August 19, 2003)

one of the best bands around, hands fucking down.

travis (August 19, 2003)

great review adam. sub pop just sent me the vinyl of this. such nice people they are there.

hungryjoe (August 19, 2003)

The Fugazi comparison is bang-on. Ever notice how "To The Lullabies" has a beat identical to the outro of "Long Distance Runner"?

From the few songs I've heard (thank you CBC2) and this review, this should be fantastic.

Oh, and quite predictably, they're on the cover of this month's Exclaim!.

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