Album Reviews | Low Cut Connie – Hi Honey (2015)

I had never even heard of the Philly-based retro-rock band Low Cut Connie — whose sound on their latest album Hi Honey is delightful, pre-British Invasion rock & roll — until Hi Honey placed third on AllMusic senior pop editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s favorite albums of 2015 list. To some, the sound may be old-fashioned and antiquated, but that’s the point: the production is engineered to sound like a band performing at some meaningless roadside bar playing to a crowd (which pops up early on during some tracks to set the mood) determined to follow their rock & roll muse from bar to bar until the road leads them off the map. Of course, decades ago, that’s exactly what happened to some folks — when their youth vanished, so did their music — and Hi Honey taps into this unique chapter of the American myth, bringing it back to life over the course of the album so it can be re-examined.

In less capable hands, this could have turned out to be a pretty pretentious exercise, but thankfully, Low Cut Connie knows their stuff. Frontman Adam Weiner proves to be a more than capable leader, turning in the best piano performances this side of Jerry Lee Lewis. While his playing, like Lewis’s, can get a tad showy, they are balanced well by the rest of the band. Take the excellent early track “Shake It Little Tina” as an example: the bass is bouncy, and the electric guitar sits nicely in the mix with a sharp, hooky riff that accentuates the rhythm. Prominent guests from the indie rock world like Dean Ween and tUnE-yArDs find their way onto the record as well, though they do so pretty invisibly. Finally, a throwback record wouldn’t be complete without a cover, and one of Lead Belly‘s “Dickie’s Bringin Me Down” is present here. (And it’s good too.) It, along with the aforementioned “Shake It Little Tina” and “Me N Annie,” make Hi Honey one of the best albums of 2015. At 37 minutes, it’s nice and short (a savvy move given the style and lightness of the material), and it begs another play as soon as it’s over.

Hi Honey's commercial appeal may be limited -- there are only so many people who want to hear late-'50s/early-'60s rock & roll at all, let alone re-created 50 years later and presented as a lost vintage bottle from the period -- and there are some who will write off Low Cut Connie's approach as gimmicky, but the songs are solid and the musicianship is even better, resulting in a savvy record with many delights.

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