In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
I’m certain I saw the members of Connections play the gig of their life last weekend, when the band opened for The Breeders at Detroit’s Majestic Theater. Fresh-faced and street-clothed, there were plenty of tells that the band isn’t accustomed to playing to audiences of that size in venues of that capacity—but the way Connections blew through the staticky sugar rush of “Miller’s Grove,” it may as well be composed of longtime road warriors. (And it sort of is: Connections is something of a Columbus-area supergroup, its most prominent player being Times New Viking drummer-vocalist Adam Elliott.) It’s been a long time since I’ve been so taken by an opening act; the headliners obviously were, too, having invited Connections to tag along on the Midwestern leg of the Last Splash anniversary tour and prodded the band into tacking two more songs onto its performance.
“Miller’s Grove” was sequenced somewhere in the middle of the set, perfectly timed to convert thoughts of “Hey, these guys aren’t half bad” into “Have they recorded any of this stuff? If so, where can I buy it?” The song loses some of its live-wire energy in the version heard on the recently released Private Airplane, though that could have something to do with the fact that the album doesn’t project images of frontman Kevin Elliott mugging his way through the instrumental sections, shoulders hunched and pacing like a zoo animal in a plaid button-up. The band owes a lot to its home state’s well-deserved reputation for scuzzy hooks: Its members may hail from the capital of the Buckeye State, and the frontman’s brother brings the same steady backbeat to Connections that he gives to Times New Viking, but the Breeders’ endorsement and the ample echoes of Guided By Voices extend the group’s roots some 70 miles southwest to Dayton. “Miller’s Grove” would be a perfect use of a minute and 45 seconds of that cross-state road trip, the headlong-rush soundtrack for blurring the scenery together into a sloppy, heartfelt tapestry of indie-rock history.