Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Low Cut Connie

  • Get Out the Lotion [, 2011] A-
  • Call Me Sylvia [, 2012] A-
  • Hi Honey [Contender, 2015] **
  • Dirty Pictures (Part 1) [Contender, 2017] ***
  • Dirty Pictures (Part 2) [Contender, 2018] **
  • Private Lives [Contender, 2020] A-
  • Tough Cookies: Best of the Quarantine Broadcasts [Contender, 2021] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Get Out the Lotion [, 2011]
The anthem here is "Shit Shower & Shave," in which scuzzballing Adam Weiner explains how "cleanliness is godliness" for a guy embarking on his quest for nocturnal emission, especially if he aspires to better than the handjob-for-hire of the album title. Less mannered here than on his pseudo-doowop project Ladyfingers (lady fingers? do we detect a fetish?), Philadelphian Weiner and some Brits with nothing better to do churn out a resolute rock and roll whose joyless momentum and stubborn little tunes will tell you more than you want to know about the pursuit of pleasure in America's deader downtowns and strip malls. My guess is that he romanticizes this pursuit some, perhaps because he believes the alternatives are measurably worse. You don't have to share his cynical sentiments. But there's a bitter pleasure in hearing his point. A-

Call Me Sylvia [, 2012]
Trying to make ends meet as the bar band of their dreams, they add muscle to their sound and lose a smidgen of edge in their writing. But that doesn't stop them from preserving 15 songs for posterity instead of the 10 they settled for on their equally self-financed debut. Adam Weiner shouldn't feel obliged to prove he's got big ballads in him, and "Cleveland" proves it. Right afterwards, fortunately, the final five tracks turn out to be where the edge takes over: two simultaneously lively and soulful Dan Finnemore love songs and three Weiner numbers, one stranger than the next and all redolent of a piano man's bar-band life. "Scoliosis in Secaucus" breaks up the love songs. The low-key voice-and-guitar envoi "Dreams Don't Come True" speaks for itself and Frank Sinatra. And done as a final-call blues, "(No More) Wet T-Shirt Contest" is Weiner's most twisted fable of the down-and-dirty life to date: "I feel like my Christian phase is comin'/My fans are gettin' pretty bored/But meanwhile I just keep on hummin'/Here in the bosom of the Lord." A-

Hi Honey [Contender, 2015]
Song band turns groove band, not necessarily on purpose ("Danny's Outta Money," "Little Queen of New Orleans") **

Dirty Pictures (Part 1) [Contender, 2017]
All they want is to be rock and roll's most basic bar band and rock and roll's most sophisticated bar band at the same time ("Montreal," "Death & Destruction") ***

Dirty Pictures (Part 2) [Contender, 2018]
America's road band apply their well-traveled chops to Alex Chilton and desegregation but hit closer to home bewailing the perfidy of the biz and the limitations of youth's spiritual advancement ("Master Tapes," "All These Kids Are Way Too High") **

Private Lives [Contender, 2020]
With Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins long passed, Roy Bittan and Benmont Tench outclassed, his hero Jerry Lee in seclusion, and his fan Elton in limbo, Low Cut Connie frontman Adam Weiner stands as the most fluent as well as the most rocking piano man in the music. Plus he's a commanding singer and a wisecracking showman known to tickle the ivories with his feet. So people brought their friends to see his practiced, unpredictable, welcoming act, the friends brought their friends, and Low Cut Connie became a club-circuit powerhouse, with records a mere merch stream economically. But Weiner has always been too brainy, empathetic, and artistically ambitious to leave it there, and now he not only wants to make good records, he wants to make good records that add political context to the party vibe his shows will return to yet again. So it's no surprise that this meaty, purposeful, 17-song hour is so far from the waggish 2011 debut job epitomized by the dating advisory "Shit, Shower and Shave": evolved, virtuosic garage-rock with an evangelical edge--if you'll pardon an esoteric historical analogy, more Iron City Houserockers than Rubber City Rebels. Too often Weiner overdoes the vocals, and a bare half of the songs are sure shots. But from the nanny who moonlights weed sales on the side to an Atlantic City song that begins "Tough shit for the little guy living like a chump with his back to the wall" to a loving closer called "Stay as Long as You Like," enough of them most definitely are. A-

Tough Cookies: Best of the Quarantine Broadcasts [Contender, 2021]
Even during lockdown I remained a record man, with little interest in DIY livestreams. But Adam Weiner, whose band I talked up for years before they somehow evolved into the hardest-working draw on the theater circuit, survived the live-music drought bigger and better than ever with his indefatigable Tough Cookies series, which he often augmented with sub-celebrity interviewees from Richard Hell to Hunter Biden. This musical cherry-pick of those 101 shows encapsulates their enthusiasm and charm. Sometimes performing in his underwear and always accompanied by Low Cut Connie's Will Donnelly, whose command of an encyclopedic panoply of hard-strumming guitar intros makes the music move, Weiner never fails to project smarts and heart, and these 23 tracks document his range and chutzpah. Beginning with a "West End Blues" where Weiner sings the trumpet part and ending with a deeply felt cover of Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again," his selections showcase his open range and big-hearted intelligence. An exceptionally fluent and percussive piano player if only a committed singer, he gives every selection including a "Kaddish" in Hebrew his all. Not counting the Armstrong-JB-Wings-Prince kickoff, my favorite sequence follows a pained version of Springsteen's "American Skin"--"This song was written over 20 years ago," he reminds George Floyd's mourners--with material that originated with Cardi B, Chic, Donna Summer, Grandmaster Flash, and the Weather Girls. Hava nagila. A