When the Constantines self-titled debut dropped in 2001, the music press correctly likened their sound and attitude to Fugazi, the Clash, and Bruce Springsteen. That's pretty heady praise for some Canadian lads who, by their own admission, just want to make people dance. With their sophomore release, Shine a Light, the Constantines show some other influences, and fold it all into a sound completely their own.
The first cut, "National Hum" is pure punk-rock fury in the vain of the pioneers. It demands your attention and that's what an opening track is supposed to do. The production is so "garage" that you can almost the smell gas can in the corner, unlike the Blink 41 bubblegum punk on local radio.
A pleasant surprise is the third track, "Nighttime/Any time (It's Alright)". A finger-lickin' chicken pickin' guitar diddle at the beginning is joined by a half-time drum and bass groove that is reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate. For a listen, stop by [...] and check out the MP3 section.
The vocals often draw comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, but they are the strongest on "Insectivora" and "Goodbye Baby & Amen" where they bear a strong resemblance to Tom Waites, both in delivery and lyric content.
Note for note, the best cut on the album is "Scoundrel Babes". It's the greatest song the Clash never wrote. With reggae overtones and gang vocals, you can't help bopping to it and throwing out the occasional "Oye!"
The Constantines are that rare breed of band, much like Fugazi or Nirvana, that inspires kids to start bands. They can be appreciated for so many reasons because their music is honest, raw, and intelligent. And after Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion, and Avril Lavigne, our Canuck neighbors owed us this one.