Constellation Myths detail debut album ‘Everything and Time’
Massachusetts post-rock Americana project readies first LP, set for self-release on October 20
Constellation Myths’ fourth single ‘Usonia’ streams starting September 29
Photo credit: Ben Stas
Boston, Mass. [October 20, 2021] -- In a sense there’s nothing more Americana than the tension between city and country. This tension runs through Everything and Time, the debut album from Massachusetts-based Constellation Myths, set for release on October 20. Baked into the American political and cultural landscape from the outset, the concepts of the urban and the rural each exert their own pull on our individual and collective sense of identity. The city acts as a stand-in for the energy and noise, anxieties and joys, the unpredictable chaos and stultifying order of modernity; the country as an edenic archetype of peace and repose, a place where we can return to some former, intuitional a priori good.
An album of dusty Americana streaked through with the musical language and textures of post-rock, Everything and Time puts these two competing archetypes and actualities in productive tension with one another. This tension is evident in the melding of sonic influences, from finger-picked folk of Appalachia to the urban apocalyptic disquiet of post-rock, as well as in the lyrical themes exploring memory, identity, and place. The rural-urban divide is especially present in the most basic reality of the band: the physical separation of the founding band-members between the country and city at opposite ends of their home state.
Everything and Time is predicated on the spirit of collaboration and experimentation between founding members, guitarist and bassist Josh Goldman, drummer and keyboardist Justin Kehoe, and vocalist Molly Seamans. Lyrically and Musically, the album is about processing and internalizing our influences and pasts, and the narratives we build out of that process.
The LP is preceded by four stirring singles and their accompanying b-sides, unveiled monthly since the summer: the tense “Suffer” from July; the delicate grandeur of August’s “Case History”; the autumnal weight of September’s title track; and the fourth and latest LP single, the moody, backlit “Usonia”, streaming September 29. “Usonia” is the final table-setter for the sweeping themes contained in the LP, a musical shift away from the dusty folk of the first three singles that angles toward a more haunted, late night sensibility. It takes its name from Frank Lloyd Wright’s idyllic utopian architecture, and is about the pull of the country and the danger posed by holding onto a rural ideal that doesn’t exist outside the imagination. Its b-side, “Don’t Ask,” a cover of an early Grizzly Bear song, stakes out similar after-dark territory.
Born out of the ash heap of a string of Boston-area indie bands, the weathered sound of Constellation Myths is founded on the musical partnership of Goldman and Kehoe. The two long-time musical collaborators have developed an instinctive musical connection over two-decades of playing together as the rhythm section in half a dozen prior indie and post-rock bands. As the pair’s previous band began to wind down in 2019, falling prey to the usual vicissitudes of any aging band -- demanding jobs, growing families, members moving outside of the city, diverging goals or interests, and any number of things that make it harder to gather in the same room together -- Goldman and Kehoe began writing on their own, passing riffs and sketches back and forth over email.
“We had been playing in post-rock bands together for many years,” says Kehoe. “And this turn towards a folkier sound was new for us, at least in a band context. Josh had been playing acoustic guitar for years, and I had just started playing keys and was beginning to mess around with arranging on the computer. One day it was like ‘Oh, we kinda have all the tools we need between the two of us,’ and then we just fell into working this way. Before we knew it we had 20 songs pretty much done.”
Building on the musical connection they’d established as a rhythm section since the late ‘90s, they quickly shifted their focus away from their traditional instruments, Goldman turning to the acoustic guitar and banjo, while Kehoe took up keys and mixing/arranging duties. Able to compose and record on their own almost entirely outside the environment of the practice space helped insulate Constellation Myths from the pressures that often cause bands to sputter and dissolve.
“Initially in this project we began to experiment with new ways of composing music that differed from our long standing process of writing in a live band setting,” says Goldman, “and we were doing so just for the sheer enjoyment of it.”
That impulse to experiment with new ways of working led to the final element of the band’s sound -- the lyrical partnership between Kehoe and Seamans. “It would have been the easiest thing in the world to stay in our comfort zone and create an instrumental post-rock album, but these songs really demanded a strong melodic vocal presence,” Kehoe says. So Seamans, who’d spent time in short-lived indie-folk band Tom Thumb with the duo, was brought aboard to round out the band with her warm vocal melodies and ear for harmonies.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Constellation Myths had settled into a songwriting rhythm that would seem tailor-made to weather the coming lockdown -- writing and recording at home, the Goldman-Kehoe music writing team passing songs back and forth over email, and building on each other’s latest contributions, while co-lyricists Seamans and Kehoe crafted lyrics and vocal melodies fitted to the mood and sonic world of each song.
“There was no deliberate attempt to thematically link the songs,” says Kehoe. “But lyrically, these songs are by-and-large about personal mythmaking, the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are, the narratives about our identities we construct, and how we incorporate the past as memory into those stories. We are all kind of the unreliable narrators of our own lives, to ourselves perhaps most of all. There’s a nice, albeit unintentional, parallel with the band name there.”
Adds Goldman: “What interests me is how certain sounds cause emotional resonances and much like how the notes in a chord vibrate in harmony with each other, I feel the connections between songs that elicit the same feelings. For my part, the songs on Everything and Time were chosen and sequenced in a way that connected with me in a fundamental and personal way. I hope they resonate with others similarly.”
The result is a collection of songs that run the gamut between easy, late-summer, Americana, and textured post-rock grooves and crescendos (albeit gentle ones). These early Constellation Myths songs show a band grappling with these two distinct musical impulses to knit together a sound all their own, one where the golden-hued strum and twang of the country is heard side-by-side with the uneasy textures of the city. Everything and Time, in its preoccupation with place and memory, is well-suited to the current moment of siteless dislocation, and the almost total withering of our sense of time and space.
‘Everything and Time’ album artwork:
Constellation Myths are:
Josh Goldman (acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, bass)
Justin Kehoe (drums, percussion, keys, and vocals on “Empty Bottles”)
with Molly Seamans (lead vocals)
‘Everything and Time’ production credits:
Recorded and mixed by Constellation Myths in Boston, MA.
Mastered by Andy Arch in Cape Cod, MA.
Cover design by Molly Seamans.
Constellation Myths have been heard and featured on:
DigBoston; Breakfast of Champions on WMBR; Steve’s New Music Review Show on Sound Street Radio UK; Virtual Detention and Fuzzed Out Boston on WZBC; Parcheesi Redux with Jay Breitling; Your First Listen on KNNZ (Fargo-Moorhead); The Pop Hour on Banks Radio Australia; Tinnitist; KONR (Anchorage, AK); Boston Emissions; Bay State Rock; Mark Skin Radio’s Christian's Cosmic Corner, Original Music Showcase, and Marc's Alt-Rock Playground; Everything You Know Is Wrong on WMWM Salem State Radio; Blood Makes Noise; Lonely Oak Radio; Citywide Blackout; The Music Bugle; Eagles Nest Radio; Valley FM 89.5 in Canberra, Australia.
Media praise for Constellation Myths’ 2021 singles:
“Damaged Americana.”_Jay Breitling, Parcheesi Redux
“The banjo-led ‘Suffer’ eloquently evokes that late-in-the-day childhood nostalgia while ‘Case History’ has beautiful sounding slide and picking guitars while the voice of Molly Seamans is sweet and endearing. Check out their 'Case History' EP for the full experience of melancholy storytelling.” _Blood Makes Noise
“We like what we’re hearing from Constellation Myths… We especially appreciate the inspiration.” _DigBoston
“[‘Case History’ is] a wonderful new track.” _Banks Radio Australia
“You need [‘Case History’] in your life right now.” _Tinnitist