TERRY GROSS, host: Low Cut Connie is a band formed by Adam Weiner from New Jersey and Dan Finnemore from Birmingham, England. The quartet they lead has just self released its first album, called "Get Out the Lotion," and rock critic Ken Tucker says it's both a throwback to early rock 'n roll and a vital collection of raucous new music.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LOW CUT CONNIE: Yeah. (Singing) Well, look at my girl walking on down the street. Well, look at them boys turning their heads to see, with a cat that got the cream. She is the best that I ever did see. But I'm telling you boys that that cat is me. Yeah. Well, look at that...
KEN TUCKER: It becomes clear early on that Low Cut Connie are a bunch of talented musicians who pride themselves on their low-down, low-rent, low-minded methods and instincts. They like to sing about intercourse, inebriation and an inability to have a good time. Recorded for what sounds like a suitably low budget, Low Cut Connie benefits mightily from the buzzsaw yowl of Adam Weiner.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, RIO)
ADAM WEINER: (Singing) Me and the boys are going to Rio. We'll bring some strangers in our room, hanging out in the casino and we'll never lose. Yeah. Me and the boys from San Francisco, love each other more than we ever do. We see each other in our (unintelligible) and it's (unintelligible), yeah. yeah.
TUCKER: That's "Rio," in which Adam Weiner sings of a night out with the boys that is so overloaded with testosterone, the guys nearly fall in love with each other before they even get to the girls and the drinking. I sincerely wish I could play the song in which Weiner gets ready for a big night out by performing his ablutions with a directness too blunt for radio, a big beat that just won't quit. But he does, worshipful party-monster that he is, equate cleanliness with godliness, and that's probably the same deity he prays to in order to channel the 1950s rock 'n' roll that motivates "Johnny Cool Man."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOHNNY COOL MAN")
WEINER: One, two, three, four. (Singing) They call me Johnny Cool, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Cool Man. Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Cool Man, the (unintelligible). I was born for no other use. Good god, I'm so into you. Don't you know it's true? Whoo. They call me Johnny Cool, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Cool Man. They call me Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Cool Man. The (unintelligible). Hoo.
TUCKER: If "Johnny Cool Man" is Low Cut Connie's reach back to Jerry Lee Lewis modulated by doo-wop, Weiner's musical partner, Dan Finnemore, has his own British contribution to make. His "Lovers Call" is Nick Lowe-ish whimsy with a skiffle rhythm that comes as close as these wiseguys want to get to pure beauty.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVERS CALL" )
CONNIE: (Singing) Well, I don't know why you won't call me baby. While all the other boys there thinking I'm your man. Well, I don't know why you won't call you me baby. Well, all the other boys they really want to hold your hand. Well, I'll be sitting down there on a lover's call and the phone don't ring and I'm on my own. I don't know which way to turn. Well, I've been sitting down there on a lovers call and the phone don't ring and I'm on my own. I don't know which way to turn.
TUCKER: For all the contagious fun to be had listening to this out-of-left-field, out-of-time collection, respect must be paid to Low Cut Connie's skills as a creator of melodies that nearly always evince more purpose than the pounding boogie they frequently start out as. And their lyrics are deceptively simple. In a song such as "Big Thighs, New Jersey," Weiner makes the pun, "Your lips were pierced with pain" carry the weight of woozy romanticism, and this song "Show Your Face," he does a terrific job of compressing the pick-up lines a guy uses to disguise the fellow's sincere desire to connect with a woman on a level deeper than a dance-floor grind.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHOW YOUR FACE")
WEINER: (Singing) I don't know you but I'd like to. What kind of things do you like to do? You're a (unintelligible). (unintelligible) make it work. WHoo. Take all the (unintelligible). Baby don't you show your face a lot. (unintelligible) baby don't you show your face a lot.
TUCKER: It would be a mistake to over-sell "Get Out the Lotion," although with a title like that, Low Cut Connie does a good job all by itself of undercutting any grand ambitions. But over the course of rockin' 11 tunes, the band keeps expectations to a minimum in an artful way. They startle you with just how much juice, passion and wit has gone into making this sound like spontaneous, thrown-together music.
GROSS: Ken Tucker is editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed Low Cut Connie's new album "Get Out the Lotion" self released on their website. I'm Terry Gross.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GROSS: On the next FRESH AIR, Afghanistan's brutal crime family the Haqqani Network, which was behind the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. We talk with New York Times correspondent Mark Mazzetti. The network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's intelligence agency, According to Admiral Mike Mullen, the departing head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Join us.