CLOSING NOTES

Music

The Constantines provide a little soul in the city

JONATHAN DURBIN August 11 2003
CLOSING NOTES

Music

The Constantines provide a little soul in the city

JONATHAN DURBIN August 11 2003

Music

CLOSING NOTES

The Constantines provide a little soul in the city

Delivering such an unabashedly poetic lyric as Don’t talk to me about simple things, there is no such thing / all a man can build is his vision, and I love my man for trying, requires grit in these fast-buck days of bubble pop. But for the Constantines, a Toronto-based five piece that metes out deep, jazzy punk with Ginsu-sharp turns of phrase, sincerity is the new bombast—and not in the miseryloves-company style of fallen art house prophets Radiohead. Shine a Light, the Constantines’ second full-length CD, which hits shelves mid-August, is a collection of afterdark rock ’n’ roll that manages melancholy without sacrificing fun. They make you

wanna dance, cry and read their liner notes. And in an earthy, rootsy way, their songs are equal measure rock and soul. Or as much as five white guys from Ontario can muster.

“What I was hearing described as soul music in the early ’90s didn’t make any sense to me,” says Bry Webb, 26, one of the group’s two vocalists. The band is rounded out by Steve Lambke (vocals, guitar), Dallas Wehrle (bass), Doug MacGregor (drums) and Will Kidman (keyboards). “Soul in the City on MuchMusic seemed so soul less, so stale—it

was such a weird way to use the term. I think of the Clash as a soul band.”

Formed in 1999, the band spent three years in Guelph, Ont., honing their talents wherever and whenever they could—often joking that they’d play any place with a three-prong outlet. Now signed to Toronto’s Three Gut Records domestically and Sub Pop—the Seattle label that once played midwife to grunge—in the U.S., the Constantines are introducing their raspy romantic rock south of the border. “I know what we want to do, but it still kind of surprises me that anybody else thinks we’re doing something out of the ordinary,” Webb says. “We’re just lucky that there’s an audience for loud music right now.”

JONATHAN DURBIN