Sure, prog-rock may have had its day back in the early-to-mid ’70s when your parents were smoking grass in on their parent’s basement, sitting on the shag carpet floor wearing bell bottoms and rocking out to the 8-track machine. And yes, it may have turned into a huge joke when, in the early ’80s, great bands of that movement were reduced to fecal residue when Yes released radio friendly dribble like “Owner of a Lonely Heart” as Genesis did the same with “Illegal Alien.” But as the dawn of the 21st century came along, prog had been applied to various forms of punk and metal-minded bands such as Neurosis blew minds away with their sludgy jazz metal musings, and the short lived, but highly influential, At the Drive-In paved the road for the Mars Volta to wig us all out with their jazzy, sometimes Krautrock-ish, snotty punk frenzy. Now I would like to direct your attention to Minnesota’s The Plastic Constellations who, in a nutshell, are like a beer-guzzling, spastic Coheed and Cambria with more cojones.
From the the opener “Phoenix and the Faultline” the choppy dynamics set in as the burly melodies pave the way for a rather unique listen. Semi-epic, guitar driven math rock fist pumpers like “Iron City Jungles” come off as Dillinger Escape Plan on Valium while the call and response chorus in “Best Things” saves it from the instrumentation that dangerously treads near the waters of the “e” word. However, it is just that technique of sudden danger that makes it all the more of an enjoyable rush, kind of like the train dodge that Cory Feldman tried to pull of in Stand by Me. It isn’t long until the track becomes outright brooding as it segues into the elastic jazz rhythms of “Quixote.” “Sancho Panza” is a rapid fire audible vortex while numbers like “Belly of the Beast” and “Men in Dark Times” are anthemic enough to play in stadiums, but something tells me that the Plastic Constellations know better.
The Plastic Constellations carry a sound with driving melodies and jagged hooks layered together on a level that mall punk bands could only dream of. Be warned, these are not tunes destined to be heard on the iPod of a portly mallrat with hockey pucks in his earlobes and fashion by My Chemical Romance. (ed note: worst…band…ever) Crusades exhibits that the Plastic Constellations are indeed are an original band that doesn’t follow what is “fashionable” in punk rock. So just in case their Midwestern webzine neighbors in Chicago don’t say it, we here at Treble tip our hats to these Minnesotans and let out a proud “yaah.”
Fugazi – Repeater
At the Drive In – In Casino Out
Lifter Puller – Fiestas + Fiascos