CD Review: The Constellations — Southern Gothic; Playing Black Cat, September 28 and The EARL, October 2

The Constellations
Southern Gothic

Virgin Records

By Sam Parvin

These guys held out on releasing this album for a while, and boy I’m sure glad they did! After their celebratory show at The EARL with Soulphonics and Ruby Velle just hours after inking their autographs on a contract with Virgin Records, the crowd knew the next time they heard such tunes as “Setback” and “Felicia” they would be coming from their iTunes playlists, polished up and shining with a level of production characteristic of a true blue record deal.

Southern Gothic, the eight-piece outfit’s first full-length album, is the result of years of inspiration, hard work and collaboration among the dozens of talents associated with The Constellations camp. Producer Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Gringo Star) aided in bringing to life these gothic rock tunes and the animation that lead singer, Elijah Jones, and crew bring to stage. The collaboration includes other artists Allen’s worked with, including Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley on “Love Is A Murder” and former Emory undergrad and rapper Asher Roth on “We’re Here To Save The Day”. Every track is soaked with creativity, combining funky synth riffs with traditional harmonies and strings sections, which is indicative of Allen’s production style.

The Constellations are the ultimate ATL-reppin’ band, as is obvious in songs like “Take a Ride.” The entire track is about cruising through Atlanta, “Down the street from the Majestic past the Clermont on the left.” “Step Right Up” reworks Tom Wait’s 1976 ballad, this time with The Constellations’ funky yet ominous tones and a spookiness that singer Jones simply owns. But don’t let the poppy, head-bobbing beats fool you. These folks are not all lollipop rock, and lyrics such as “it’s a perfect day to go and tie one on” and “I cop a ten-sack, but that ain’t gettin’ me far/I put the hammer to the nail and the nail to my arm” showcase that.

Simply put, Southern Gothic is the ultimate representation of the lives this Atlanta octet has been living. And while Atlanta music has been gaining international recognition in recent years, The Constellations boldly proclaim what Atlantans have held sacred for so long: this city is here to rock, and to rock hard.

As track six announces, The Constellations are “Here to Save the Day”. I say we let ‘em.

The Constellations play with Electric Six at Black Cat on September 28…

… and The EARL on October 2 with Electric Six.

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