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Look Alive is our 8th album. The bulk of it was recorded in a vintage keyboard museum in Calgary AB, during a January stretch when the temperature reached 30 degrees below zero. We ended up in Canada because our British producer, Leo Abrahams, couldn’t turn around an American work visa fast enough, and we feel lucky to have discovered Studio Bell at the last minute. Despite having access to room after room of well-maintained analog keys, Leo gravitated to a cheap Ensoniq Mirage synth from the 1980’s that made Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation-era sounds from floppy disks. Leo spent countless hours poring over these floppy disks while the band gawked at the mellotrons, harpsichords, and other vintage equipment housed at Studio Bell. It was the beginnings of a stylistic clash that would ultimately play out beautifully. Our band had always gravitated to “warm” sounds. Leo would introduce us to “cold” sounds and the way they challenge us as listeners. He was the perfect complementary piece for Guster.
After working with the late Richard Swift four years ago and discovering a more raw and vintage sound on Evermotion, we fully embraced studio production with Leo this time around. The sheer amount of production on Look Alive grew into its own statement. There is a lot to unpack.
One day in Calgary we arrived at the studio to discover that Leo had put in a few extra hours on our song “Summertime.” He’d built an entire new intro using the Ensoniq Mirage overnight and played it for us. The band reaction wasn’t too kind. Our beautiful song now had a jarring, harsh, disruptive introduction, instead of the soft mellotron flutes we’d known. After some days of light bickering about it, Leo finally shed his proper British diplomatic side and belted out that “the world doesn’t need another fucking Beatles pastiche!” This would eventually become a rallying cry for the album as we strove to make something new and powerful together.
Title track “Look Alive” is an ominous, processed sonic collage with haunting words about waking up and becoming active in the midst of hollow words and fake heroes. “Hard Times,” written in the studio, came out more like the dark pop of Peter Gabriel / Depeche Mode / Tears for Fears than what people might think of Guster. “Overexcited” felt like classic Brit-pop and so Ryan sang it with a British accent over an Ensoniq marimba. Some of Guster’s critics will say “but you can’t do that” — and that’s something we’ve heard our entire career. We don’t subscribe to the same musical ideology they do and never have.
Writing songs for the second straight record with multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds (who joined the band in 2010) has been a key to our evolution. Working with artists like Leo Abrahams, John Congleton, and Collin DuPuis proved to be inspiring and adds to a “brain trust” that bolsters the songs. With Look Alive the plan is simple. Grow our musical community. Write better and better songs. Keep our minds open. Never repeat ourselves and create a legacy of music that is undeniable.
– Brian Rosenworcel, drummer of Guster
ABOUT LOW CUT CONNIE
Since Low Cut Connie’s debut record Get Out the Lotion (NPR’s Fresh Air Top 10 albums of 2011), they’ve firmly established their reputation as one of the most exciting live shows in the US, with Greg Kot (Sound Opinions / Chicago Tribune) exclaiming they are “the essence of what rock n roll should be” and The New York Times stating, “Low Cut Connie’s word-of-mouth legend is built on live shows like this one.” Sweat-drenched, piano-pounding songwriter and frontman Adam Weiner’s writing has been described as “Seventies Stones (but dirtier), the New York Dolls (but tighter) and Jerry Lee Lewis (but Westerberg-ier)” (Rolling Stone).
Low Cut Connie made unprecedented strides in 2018 as they released their 5th studio album Dirty Pictures (Part 2) via Contender Records. In August 2018, Low Cut Connie made their network television debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers where they performed the rollicking album opener “All These Kids Are Way Too High.” That following month, the band, who can already count Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen, and Nick Hornby as fans, received a shoutout from Sir Elton John took the stage at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Sir Elton John dedicated “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” to the sold out crowd and said, “There’s a band that I love at the moment so much called Low Cut Connie, who are from Philadelphia. And I’d like to dedicate this song to them right now, because I love them very much, and you should check them out. Buy their records, go see them. They’re amazing.”
To kick off 2019, the band was featured in the print edition of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Year In Music” issue with a photo essay chronicling their recent sold out national tour. The publication also named Dirty Pictures (Part 2)’s single “Beverly” one of the 50 Best Songs of 2018, calling it “…the catchiest chorus of a career that’s produced more than a few and a song that could’ve been on the radio in the era it honors.”
As part of their famed First Listen series, NPR Music said, “Across five albums of piano-driven rock and soul, Low Cut Connie has proven masterfully fluent in the foundational languages of Western pop, living at the crossroads where the church house meets the roadhouse, or where the Dew Drop Inn meets CBGB… The blood that pumps through the Philadelphia band’s work comes from a place that’s fresh, original, and truly pledged to rock and roll.”
With more than 120 shows per year, including stops at festivals like Bonnaroo, Bottle Rock, Rock The Garden, Pickathon, Newport Folk Festival and more, Adam Weiner and his punky little band from South Philadelphia continue to dig in their corner of the sandbox. Low Cut Connie light a fire at every show and with every record. Dirty Pictures (part 2) reminds all of us, all the little people, to keep our fires lit at any cost.
ABOUT THE RESTLESS AGE
The Restless Age is a collaboration – a harmony of Will Bryant, Lee Falco and Brandon Morrison. Each player brings a unique song and voice to the bandstand, as the trio spans generations and genres.
The members of The Restless Age have been a premier rhythm section throughout New York’s Hudson Valley for the past half-decade. As the house band for Amy Helm’s ‘Oh to be Home Again’ at Levon Helm Studios, they performed behind Donald Fagen, John Sebastian and Graham Nash, as well as being Kate Pierson’s (The B-52’s) touring band in support of her 2015 debut album ‘Guitars & Microphones’. During that same year they toured the U.S. & Canada supporting the The Waterboys and The Gipsy Kings along with fellow Hudson Valley singer-songwriter Connor Kennedy.
Lee Falco, Brandon Morrison and Will Bryant rose to national attention backing Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, as “The Nightflyers” on his 2017 national tour.
Now, with their harmonious indie rock The Restless Age steps out as a unit of songwriters, singers and instrumentalists.
ABOUT JOCIE ADAMS