My kingdom for easy money
It's the thrust that gets me. The collusion of chugging guitars and whiplash drums. Bry Webb shaking his fist and wailing out hoarse anthems. The Constantines have shown they can do sweet or low-key just fine ("Windy Road," "Goodbye Baby and Amen," et al.) but they're at their best when they're pumping out stadium rock for the indie set. Releasing their first single from their fourth still-untitled album suggests some midpoint between the raucous energy of Shine A Light and the maturer working-class punk of Tournament of Hearts. The A-side, "Hard Feelings," tilts toward the latter, but it's somewhat upstaged by its upstart companion.
Based on its lyrics, "Easy Money" seems like another natural extension of the Constantines' last album. It tells of the rigors of being a band, sacrificing commerce for art, putting in the long hours—a punch-the-clock lament much in the vein of "Working Fulltime" or "Good Nurse." But it also calls back the youth and desperation of earlier Constantines songs, feeling more personal and necessary. You can feel the fire being relit under Bry Webb's feet, the cumulative strain of touring, recording, and the business end of the industry (being dropped by Sub Pop namely) finally kicking in. When he rasps, "Able body with a lazy eye/ Lazy eye in a lost decade" over a churning, grimy rhythm, he sounds ready to revolt. And I remember all over again why that's such a vital part of this very vital band.
* MP3: "Easy Money" - The Constantines from "Hard Feelings" 7" [Buy it]
* Previously: Work and love: an interview with Bry Webb