CD Review: The Constellations — Southern Gothic; Playing 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 The EARL on October 2 with Electric Six.


  1. How did AMG allow this to be published? This writer obviously has no idea about the origins of the group. Southern Gothic was self-released months before any record deal was signed. The Virgin release is the same thing with new artwork and a remix replaced by a newly record song. And Ben Allen did not “aid” in bringing to life what the group brings to the stage – this is his brainchild. The current members minus Elijah simply mimic what was recorded and thought out ahead of time. And way to suggest that the whole band does smack. I hate to crack on this writer/review, but Pitchfork wrote a more informed review than Atlanta’s own “music guide.” Now, that’s fucking sad.

  2. Phew, well, I didn’t realize we came across as so ignorant. Definitely didn’t mean to take away from Ben’s part in the original line-up – thought it was implied that he had more to do with the band originally, so sorry about that.

    Also, I think the writer alluding to the lyrics was more to show how the band can be a bit gritty, not that they are all drug addicts.

    I’ll let Sam comment any more as the writer – but hopefully our errors were merely an issue of semantics and not us putting out mistakes on the blog. We’ve been pretty big fans of the band for a while, having seen them at their second gig in Austin for the first time a year or so ago, and would hate to have a review not do them justice.

    On the other hand, I’m glad they’re getting such good reviews from national blogs like Pitchfork!

    -Leila, the ed.

  3. I have followed this group for a long time and was happy to see a positive critique from AMG, but I just find it disappointing that a more informed review was not written coming from a respected hometown publication. Pitchfork may have ripped it apart, but they actually did their research didn’t blow any facts. I don’t think anybody actually expected Pitchfork to give a group like this any love.

  4. Oh… not a good review from Pitchfork then? Well, no surprise there, you’re right, they don’t exactly shell out the love.

    On our end, I can only say we’ll try harder in the future to display facts as correctly as possible, and not mislead anyone. Thanks!

    -Leila, the ed.

  5. Jason,

    I’m sorry to hear you don’t agree with my review. As Leila said, we have been fans of this band for awhile, and my intention was merely to begin to describe the kind of work they are doing, with the hopes that it will sound appealing to our readers and they will check out The Constellations on their own. You’re right, some of their work has been released before, but not with major labor production and distribution. Ben Allen’s influence is obviously apparent throughout the album, and I thought I made that clear in my review. Also, I was not in any way pronouncing the band members drug addicts. At all. I do not personally know the members of the band, and if I were to write a review with the intention of educating our readers on the reasons behind their work versus my take on the work itself, I will be sure to snag an interview for a first-hand account.

    Thanks so much for respecting Atlanta Music Guide. I hope my review has not tainted that in any way.

    Sam, The Writer

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