Low Cut Connie’s ‘Dirty Pictures (part 1)’ makes me wish that honesty were one of the qualities by which we assess albums here at GIGsoup. Rare is the album and rare is the band that so proudly and loudly declares its unshakeable faith in their genre and the concept of music itself. Connie has genuflected at the altars of their forebears, the progenitors and refiners of the craft of rock and roll, and in so doing have become some of its finest transmitters to a generation badly in need.
“If I don’t preserve it / Then I don’t deserve it,” singer and pianist Adam Weiner sings in lead track ‘Revolution Rock n Roll,’ signifying the emphasis on tradition that defines part of Connie’s attitude and sound. But in the chorus to that song, he seems to preach the opposite when he yelps, “Come on children, rip it up / Let the jerkoffs pick it up.” Must creation mean the destruction of what came before? Does Connie seemingly paradoxically seek to preserve the spirit to destroy? Am I one of the aforementioned jerkoffs for asking these questions in an album review? All things to ponder.
[contentblock id=141 img=adsense.png]
But what you surely don’t need to ponder is the visceral, unbridled joy of Connie doing what it does best, which is rocking the fuck out. ‘Dirty Water’ may be the most irresistible tune here with its stomping glam groove and shout-along chorus, but elsewhere the coked-up Jerry Lee Lewis boogieing on ‘Death and Destruction’ and Stones-esque ‘Angela’ pack as many thrills. Meanwhile the gnarled funk of ‘Love Life’ and an exceptional cover of Prince’s ‘Controversy’ showcase the band drawing from a deeper pool of influence than we’ve yet heard in their studio work while still sounding completely like their rollicking selves.
There’s more to the record than the party, though. ‘Forever’ stands as Connie’s most ambitious composition to date, with spacey vibes and wobbling tremolo-laden guitars helping score a meditation on loves and heroes lost. The sentiments are particularly resonant after a year of such profound musical losses, the weight of which fill the spaces between every note.
In the mournful ‘Montreal,’ Weiner sings over spectral piano accompaniment, “All my friends don’t answer when I call / All my friends make money after all,” with palpable disappointment. It’s a prosaic document of a betrayal that cannot be understood by both parties (or perhaps by anyone not involved in the arts), which naturally comes after a line about those same friends getting herpes in the titular city and before several lines about giving conjunctivitis “like a star.” Moments like these prove Weiner to be an unassuming lyrical auteur, rattling off alternately grimly and gleefully perverse lines with the credible emotion offered by his straight-faced readings (although you can hear an inkling of a chuckle on that conjunctivitis bit). The songs here are populated by willing outcasts and proud losers and they contribute to the delightful seediness of Connie’s world as much as the band’s sleazy, punchy sound.
And isn’t that how we want rock music to be? How it should be? Pampered, manicured, pretty boy plastic “rock stars” seem to lead the conversation around this genre these days and most of us fail to realize they’ve removed it so far from it’s essence that it may as well not be rock at all. It’s tough to find traces of unpredictability, danger or risk within and beyond the mainstream. Low Cut Connie is here to rip all that up, daring to tell listeners that they can and should expect more – more passion, more fury, more grotesquerie, more of anything that rattles you enough to remind you that you’re alive. ‘Dirty Pictures (part 1)’ is a simple, primal album from a band that realizes that’s just what we need. Bring on part 2.