The Plastic Constellations
We're not going to the belly of the beast / with straight staccato we'll shake it 'till it bleeds
So begins Crusades, the third album from Minneapolis-based band The Plastic Constellations (TPC). It's a lyric that goes on to color and temper the rest of the record, hinting at the triumphant spirit to follow. Whereas the band bounced between Pavement-inspired jangle and big rock anthems in the past, Crusades wastes no time establishing the latter over the former. Crusades is firmly a Rock Record and it is firmly unrelenting. Listen to the lyrics and you'll find the band fighting, uniting, and conquering on each track. Couple that with hyper-kinetic guitar work and a thunderous rhythm section, and you'll find TPC recontextualizing heavy music in the "indie rock" realm, thrusting them above so many less inspired bands.
TPC started playing together in 1995 as tow-headed and rambunctious 14-year-old best friends. At 15, they were asked by Low to open for them at the legendary First Avenue club; amazingly, this happened to be their first show. The four boys officially began storming the Midwest club scene in 1999, and quickly attracted a large following with their infectious live shows. As Atmosphere's Slug once said in City Pages, "This city is not big enough to hold their energy."
Now, as slightly more mature 23 year olds, TPC continue to wow audiences with their rhythmic intensity, anthemic melodies, and playful sense of humor. Having garnered favorable press around the country for 2004's Mazatlan (2024 Records), the band is poised to bring their brand of party to the national stage in 2006 after signing to the influential and respected Frenchkiss Records in New York - home to Les Savy Fav, The Hold Steady, and Thunderbirds are Now!
Lacking any sense of pretension whatsoever, the band draws from a diverse range of influences. Ranging from the post-punk attack of Les Savy Fav to the dance-y rhythm of At the Drive-In, TPC leaves live audiences sweaty and spent. TPC are comprised of Aaron Mader and Jeff Allen on dueling guitars, Jordan Roske on bass, and Matt Scharenbroich on drums. Consistent with the friendship-unity theme of TPC, each member takes their turn in front of the microphone to espouse passionate group declarations.
Clouds part, the sun and a fresh start / 'cause the paths clear ahead / and hopes not dead / fight till the end!
So closes "Men in Dark Times," a song microcosmic and emblematic of the record as a whole. The fight is not dead and indeed, TPC is leading the charge.
Critical Praise for 2004's Mazatlan...
"Sending the intensity of Les Savy Fav through a wringer of unshakable pop melodies that boast unexpected twists and shouts, The Plastic Constellations nail their bludgeoning, super-anthemic rock choruses with an energy infectious enough to directly affect your blood flow.
Pitchfork Media - (8.5 out of 10)
" ...quirky, ecstatic tunes that throw indie rock, emo and even some hip-hop together and tell them to make nice. On their latest album, the noisy pop quartet diplays the blazing energy of fellow Midwesterners OK Go and some keenly lyrical, Modest Mouse-esque songwriting skills."
Time Out New York
"Considering their relative youth against their apparent talent, if these guys continue to have fun and like each other they will grow into a formidable force. The kind of band a more bloated major-manicured act fears in the opening slot of a show - TPC would blow them away as easily as target practice on a beached whale."
Jeff Allen - Guitar
Aaron Mader - Guitar
Jordan Roske - Bass
Matt Scharenbroich - Drums
Self Titled 7" (1998 on Pretentious Records)
We Got The Movement EP (1999 on Pretentious Records)
Let's War LP (2000 on Modern Radio Records / Blood Of The Young Records)
Mazatlan LP (2004 on 2024 Records)
Crusades LP (2006 on Frenchkiss Records / 2024 Records)
Sancho Panza from Crusades (2006 on Frenchkiss Records / 2024 Records)