Do you want new wave or do you want the truth? In a world where a pop star covering another pop star can cause Facebook to go dicknuts crazy, it’s nice to be reminded of the truth. Low Cut Connie‘s Hi Honey is in all likelihood my album of the year. It’s raw, sexy rock ‘n’ roll with pumping piano, female backup singers, and nods to Stax, Motown, Jerry Lee Lewis, ’60s AM radio, ’60s garage bands, Stones, Faces, and even Johnny Thunders. Influences aside, Low Cut Connie isn’t some band trotting out the oldies. There’s inventive arrangements, vivid imagery, a pronounced sense of place (Sleaze City), and for all the throwback stylings, Hi Honey feels very 2015. In that sense they’re similar to contemporaries like Reigning Sound and A Giant Dog, bands who also cleverly bridge the past and present and beg, scream, and shout for repeat listenings.
I dedicate this post to my lovely wife, Sarah, on her 29th birthday. Low Cut Connie is our new favorite band and we both highly encourage all Lounge-y brethren and sistren to adopt a pro-Connie domestic policy.
Low Cut Connie – Shake It Little Tina
Adam Weiner – lead vocals, piano
James Everhart – lead guitar
Will Donnelly – bass
Dan Finnemore – drums
Dave Guy (Dap-Kings) – trumpet
Neal Sugarman (Dap-Kings) – tenor sax
Jared Tankel (Budos Band) – baritone sax
Saundra Williams (Dapettes), Alecia Chakour (Allman Brothers), Wondress Hutchinson (Mantronix) – backing vocals throughout
Sabrina Ellis (Sweet Spirit, A Giant Dog) – backing vocals in verses
Hi Honey‘s lead single is accompanied by one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in some time. I don’t know who this Adam Carpenter cat is, but dude is a boogie-down Plastic Man. However, the video works because “Tina” marries “Honky Tonk Women”/”Tumbling Dice”-era Stones to a James Jamerson (bass) and Uriel Jones (drums) bottom end heard to brilliant effect on many a classic Motown recording. It’s a swaggering, fuck machine of an anthem with a black gospel trio on backup vox and Everhart’s killer Keith Richards-esque guitar licks playing off of Weiner’s steady right hand. That’s pure Stones, but clearly the same band that did “Big Thighs, NJ” and “Call Me Sylvia” (“Don’t know why you call me Sylvia/Don’t know why you wanna make me shave my legs”). The genius of Hi Honey is that it uses these different reference points for what Low Cut Connie has been doing all along.
Low Cut Connie – Diane (Don’t Point That Thing At Me)
Dan Finnemore – lead vocals, lead guitar, drums
Adam Weiner – Farfisa organ
James Everhart – guitar
Will Donnelly – bass
Unknown – tambourine (used effectively throughout song)
Sabrina Ellis – harmony vocals
I love that Low Cut Connie has Adam Weiner’s piano songs (which rock) AND Dan Finnemore’s guitar songs (which swing and sway). That dynamic elevates the band above paint-by-numbers soul revues and standard guitar-bass-drums garage bands because the contrast between their songwriting keeps the listener guessing in the best way. So, where “Shake It Little Tina” has a Muscle Shoals by way of Motown vibe, “Diane” reminds me of Del Shannon‘s “Runaway,” one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singles of all-time, but not particularly funky. Fantastic song, Weiner’s Farfisa almost has an Augie Meyers feel, and this is for all intents and purposes TWO tracks into Hi Honey.* Why haven’t you bought this already???
* “Tina” has a minute-long prelude called “Who The Hell Is Tina?” I feel like that’s part of “Shake It” more than it is its own song.
It’s worth mentioning that “Diane” includes harmony vocal assistance from the lovely and talented Sabrina Ellis of Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog fame. She offers high harmonies both here and on “Me N Annie.” I like that one of my favorite musicians is playing with my new favorite band. Rock ‘n’ roll badasses need to collaborate for the betterment of the human race. That’s science.
BONUS CONNIE: DOWN WITH THE GOSPEL TRUTH
Low Cut Connie – Boozophilia
Diversey River Bowl, Chicago
Did you know, that when asked, President Obama included this song on his Summer 2015 Spotify Playlist? How the hell did the goddang leader of the free world get turned onto an obscure, musically dominant Philly bar band??? Follow-up question: Doesn’t the President openly sponsoring a song about life in Drunkadelphia pretty much make him the worse muslim socialist ever? Asking for a friend.
A bluesy boogie with hints of Faces and Dolls, “Boozophilia” is music to get fucked up to. I love that these guys just showed up at a bowling alley and started playing standup piano jams. I wonder how long they played before they were asked to leave? Can you blame the proprietors of Diversey River Bowl. Bowling has rules, but piano-based rock ‘n’ roll is a wild card. You don’t know what might happen next.
So, what you probably wanna do is set aside $10-15 to buy Hi Honey. Think about it. You’re just gonna do something silly like spend that money on your family’s future. BORING! Rock ‘n’ roll saves souls.
“We’re getting down here with the people
Down with the gospel truth
Down in Boozophilia
Down with a broken tooth”