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Album Reviews – Bob Mould – Xiu Xiu – and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

February 8, 2019 – Vol. 85

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Music reviews come in all sizes, but you’re busy and do not have time for flowery language… or sentences, really.

Spinal Tap gave the world the greatest album review of all time:

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Welcome to our “Shark Sandwich” — razor-sharp reviews that sum up an album in five sentences or less.

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The Lemonheads – Varshons 2

Evan Dando and his Lemonheads were a scrappy pop punk band until 1992’s It’s a Shame About Ray emerged in the post Nirvana universe and the more melodic, polished side came to the forefront. No stranger to kooky covers (“Amazing Grace” anyone?), Dando serves up the second batch this century with Varshons 2, and everyone from Paul Westerberg to Jayhawks, John Prine, NRBQ, and the Eagles are given the treatment. This is a mostly laid back affair until “TAQN” (by the Eyes) scratches and claws through your speakers, surprising the shit out of you. Cover albums can be dodgy things, but Dando has an expansive knowledge of music, and there is undeniable spirit that pulls you in on Varshons 2.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Things”
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Xiu Xiu – Girl with Basket of Fruit

Xiu Xiu sounds like a train full of stand-up comedians on psychotropics plowing into the ocean the exact moment the Earth is swallowed up by the Sun. It’s not for everyone. This is no easy listen, but all the little moments strung together make it ultimately rewarding. This is meant to be listened to solo, in the car, or on headphones, because Girl with Basket of Fruit is anything but a crowd pleaser. Be careful, you might be driven insane by the time to make it to work.

Rating: 3 out 5 whistles

Best Song: “Scissssssssors”

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HEALTH – Vol. 4::Slaves of Fear

HEALTH is like getting hit in the face with a brick. Putting the “noise” in noise rock since 2005, they have described their sound as what if feels like to be alive in 2019. Paranoid, claustrophobic, wounded, and deeply fearful? That fits. Put Vol. 4::Slaves of Fear on when you want to aggressively wallow in our modern discomfort and tension.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Black Static”

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Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s the Delta Sweete Revisited

Have you heard of Bobbie Gentry? That’s ok (me either), Mercury Rev has you (and the original album) covered with a treasure trove of singers filling in for Bobbie Gentry. Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval, Margo Price, Lucinda Williams, and others give voice to the lyrics over an ethereal soundscape. This is definitely an “experience” album that demands an hour of your time. You can’t really listen to a song here and there, but by the time you hear Lucinda Williams’ distinctive drawl you will wonder how long you have been hypnotized.

Rating: 4 out 5 whistles

Best Song: “Sermon” (feat. Margo Price)

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Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock

Some Bob Mould fans freak out when they read about song or album titles that sound… happy? Come on, though, have we learned nothing since File Under: Easy Listening? Sunshine Rock is everything that you already love about Mould; hell it is basically a Sugar album. If that description doesn’t put gas in your tank, move along. The guitars chime, the drums are nimble as hell, and if the guy occasionally wants to be happy – let him, goddammit.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “I Fought”

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All artists are available on iTunesAmazonGooglePlay, and wherever else better music is sold, streamed, downloaded, or performed on tour.

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NewsWhistle music contributor Chad Werner is “ahead of the curve, behind the times.” You can contact this rock n’ roll sphinx at chad@newswhistle.com (e-mail) or @scooternotmoped (Twitter).

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Lead-In Image – Composite

  • Album and sleeve – Courtesy of  imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
  • Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
  • Album collage – Bob Mould – Merge Records; HEALTH – Loma Vista Records; Mercury Rev – PTKF Records; Xiu Xiu – Polyvinyl Records; and Lemonheads – Fire Records.