Constant Velocity – s/t

Constant Velocity are a punk rock band. Don’t let the name fool you; when I first heard it, I thought that I was in for listening to a band doomed to acquire the dreaded “emo” label. Constant Velocity play a type of punk rock often overlooked and obscured by the more traditional definition of the term. They play a pop driven punk with classic rock sensibilities, often channeling bands like Television or the Minutemen. They don’t sound like they know it yet, or the fact that the rest of the world hasn’t heard of them, but this young band from Bloomington, Illinois rocks harder than a lot of bands attempting this sound with little success.

The debut, self-titled album from Constant Velocity was obviously recorded on a budget. In all honesty, they don’t sound like they care and their ambition drives the tracks on this record, like the bluesy “The Smoker”. It takes a bit to get used to Alex Smith’s vocals, he’s one of those types of vocalists that can’t really sing, but his voice is perfect for the off-kilter delivery from the rest of the musicians.

Speaking of music, I found one of my favorite tracks to be “3sa Crowd”, thanks to the simple 2 minute introduction, which finds the bass and guitar competing. The high-hats give the impression that at any moment the song will erupt into a fast and aggressive number, but instead the song takes us into a bouncy and infectious pop tune about a young girl’s crush on a youth minister. The song titled “The Cloud” is one of the only songs that comes close to fitting the traditional punk rock label, but its with Velocity’s ability to write infectious breakdowns to underscore the aggression, that their sound remains truly fresh and exciting.

It’s hard to choose from such a great record a favorite, but I would have to say “Genius” is just that. Clocking in at an epic 6 min and 37 seconds, it slowly meanders in a Door’s like groove and then totally lets loose in a guitar effects laden breakdown worthy of comparison to the classic rock of years past. Then, after another breakdown, the song rips into an upbeat punk rock tune only to slow down again into a keyboard part carefully placed to add to the quirky sensibilities of this eclectic outfit.

More people should know about this band. It’s rather unfortunate that the tour section of their website lists only one show in the near future, which is a shame. Give these guys a bigger budget, unleash them on the road, and the possibilities are endless.