Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-09-28


Low Cut Connie: 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-

Andre Williams & the Sadies: Night and Day (Yep Roc, 2012) Despite the occasional charms of albums on such indie-roots imprints as Bloodshot and In the Red, I've never trusted this 75-year-old "legend"'s legend. And indeed, although research indicates that the writing credits on "Twine Time" and "Shake a Tail Feather" check out, the rumored plethora of r&b hits add up to just two as per Joel Whitburn. So he's one of those old bullshit artists young musicians love because they're such great bullshit artists; he's an authenticity marker all the more convincing because he's also a known fraud. Unsurprisingly, his current Bloodshot album, featuring actual Motown-funk legend Dennis Coffey, isn't even worth a check-out. But these 13-songs-in-35-minutes, cut half in 2008 when he was drunk and half in 2010 when he was sober, are shockingly strong for the first eight or nine, which unfortunately include all the drunk ones. Songs about getting your friend out of jail and about moving in on your friend's wife while he's there. Songs about how Africa's even worse than America and how Joliet is Mississippi's sister. A pounding song that begins "The worst thing in the world is a black man being bored." Long beloved of 2010 guardian angel Jon Langford, Ontario's Sadies prove just as rowdy and adaptable under 2008 overseer Jon Spencer, especially with Sally Timms and Kelly Hogan shoring up that young bullshit artist's cred by singing backup. A-

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