Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Low Cut Connie: 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