Music Reviews
3:10 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Low Cut Connie: The Self-Deprecating Bar Band

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:47 am

Low Cut Connie is one of an increasingly rare breed: a party band, a bar band, a band with a sense of rock 'n' roll history that isn't weighed down by nostalgia or the foolish feeling that music was better way back when. Positive fellows, for the most part, even when they're in their cups, these guys "say yes," as the title of one song goes, to a life in music. Oh, and they're also trying to get women to say yes to their craven come-ons.

Adam Weiner sings in a nasal sneer that's really a leering grin in disguise. He's the band's most ostentatious showman; see the band in concert and he'll be the one executing Jerry Lee Lewis hammerings on the piano, leaping onto the bench to emphasize a particularly insistent chord. Meanwhile, Dan Finnemore writes and sings the songs, which partake of a '60s British Invasion sense of harmonics.

Even bar bands get the blues, of course, and with Low Cut Connie, such moments sound like hangover cures set to music. Take "Stay Alive If You Can" from the band's second album, Call Me Sylvia, in which Weiner gets morose while summoning up a James Dean/Rebel Without a Cause landscape of self-regard and despair.

Where the band's debut album, Get Out the Lotion, was the sound of guys rocking out and hoping someone's listening, the attention it got them has thrown them back on themselves, forcing them to take stock of their chosen path. The result is that they're already chafing a bit at still playing small clubs and not rolling in dough; you can't get much more explicit about that than writing a song called "Pity Party." And, toward the end of the album, Weiner follows an eccentric, stream-of-consciousness rant called "No More Wet T-Shirt Contests" with a morose, profane, quiet ballad called "Dreams Don't Come True." But, hey: "That's life, baby," to quote Weiner in that song. Besides, there's always the distinct possibility of bigger crowds, more fans and a chance to move out of your parents' basement. Right?

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Low Cut Connie is a quartet that specializes in rollicking party music and has just released its second album called "Call Me Sylvia." It features songs written by singer-songwriter, pianist Adam Weiner from New Jersey, and singer, drummer, guitarist Dan Finnermore from Birmingham, England. Rock critic Ken Tucker says this album is as raucous as the band's debut, with a slight increase in self-consciousness.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LOW CUT CONNIE: (Singing) They got no time for me. Just living in a city. Living on the bad streets. Sleeping in the balcony.

KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: Low Cut Connie is one of an increasingly rare breed: a party band, a bar band, a band with a sense of rock 'n' roll history that's not weighed down by nostalgia or the foolish feeling that music was better way back when. Positive fellows, for the most part, even when they're in their cups, these guys say yes, as the title of one song goes, to the band's life in music. Oh, and they're also trying to get women to say yes to their craven come-ons.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YES")

CONNIE: (Singing) I want to see you in your cotton dress. I want to see you say yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I want to see you, baby taken away. I want to see you say oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. yeah. Don't give me bread 'cause I'm allergic to wheat. Don't give me meat 'cause I'm allergic to meat. Just give me something, something, something sweet and say yes. Yes. Yes, baby. Say yes. Yes, baby.

TUCKER: Adam Weiner sings in a nasal sneer that's really a leering grin in disguise. He's the band's most ostentatious showman. See the band in concert and he'll be the one executing Jerry Lee Lewis hammerings on the piano, leaping onto the bench to emphasize a particularly insistent chord. The other aspect of Low Cut Connie's sound are the songs that Dan Finnemore writes and sings, which partake of a '60s British Invasion sense of harmonics.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONNIE: (Singing) I say I want it. You say I had it. You can't get too much of a real good thing. Oh, yeah. And, if you taste it, try not to waste it 'cause all the vultures will be circling around your head. For her love - for her love - for her love - yeah. Don't cry, baby blue. You know, the cops ain't coming for you and that you still believe the world is caving in. Well, you can buy yourself some time. Hell, you can even take some of mine, so stop this crazy talk that's in your head 'cause, baby, we ain't dead.

TUCKER: Even bar bands get the blues, of course, and with Low Cut Connie, such moments sound like hangover cures set to music. Take this one. "Stay Alive If You Can," in which Weiner gets morose while summoning up a James Dean "Rebel Without a Cause" landscape of self-regard and despair.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STAY ALIVE IF YOU CAN")

CONNIE: (Singing) Stay alive if you can. Everybody wants a piece of me. Yeah. I got to make you understand you got to do it all now for yourself. Got that feeling that something's going to happen pretty soon. I don't know what you're going to do, but you better move before they move you.

TUCKER: Where the band's debut album, "Pass the Lotion," was the sound of guys rocking out and hoping someone's listening, the attention it got them has thrown them back on themselves, forcing them to take stock of their chosen path. The result is that they're already chafing a bit at still playing small clubs and not rolling in dough.

You can't get much more explicit about that than writing a song called "Pity Party." And, toward the end of the album, Weiner follows an eccentric, stream of consciousness rant called "No More Wet T-Shirt Contests" with a morose, profane, quiet ballad called "Dreams Don't Come True." But, hey, that's life, baby, to quote Weiner in that song.

Besides, there's always the distinct possibility of bigger crowds, more fans and a chance to move out of your parents' basement. Right? Right?

GROSS: Ken Tucker is editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed Low Cut Connie's new album "Call Me Sylvia."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONNIE: (Singing) I been sad and lonely and I live with my mother. I hate my job (unintelligible), but I can't get any other one. The only time I get to be good is when I go out to bowl. I'm thinking I'm going to be (unintelligible) 30 years old. Come on, baby, throw a pity party for me. Come on, have a little (unintelligible) how it could have been.

GROSS: Coming up, linguist Geoff Nunberg talks about the controversy over a dictionary published 50 years ago and what it reveals about how our debates about language have changed. This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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