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Album Reviews – Chaka Khan – Ladytron – and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

February 15, 2019 – Vol. 86

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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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SWMRS – Berkley’s on Fire

If the Cult and Gang of Four had a baby, it would be Oakland, California’s SWMRS. Berkley’s on Fire is an echo-y, herky jerky workout for your brain. Electronic percussion pops in and out as you “Lose Lose Lose” your mind, and are grateful for it. It is fun listen, that is for sure. When they put the pedal to the metal on “Hellboy” you should be fully on board with their slinky aural mayhem.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Lonely Ghosts”

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Chaka Khan – Hello Happiness

Chaka Khan is the Queen of Funk, and she is back right when 2019 needed her. Hello Happiness is a quick seven song cycle that while never overstaying its welcome is a swirling, expansive experience. By no means one-note, Khan hits all the electrofunk heights on “Don’t Cha Know,” sounds like she is fronting the Bad Seeds on “Too Hot,” and tries out funky trip hop on “Like Sugar.” Hello Happiness sounds like the dance floor is on fire, and we are all glad to be boogie-ing around the flames.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Don’t Cha Know”

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Ryan Bingham – American Love Song

Ryan Bingham is the real deal. He is an American music blender, throwing country, rock and roll, honky tonk, and front-porch balladeering in the stew simmering on the front burner. Bingham kicks up plenty of dust on American Love Song, but the spare, haunting “Beautiful and Kind” lays the whole truth of this life bare, and it isn’t always a pretty picture. Every track on this album grabs you by the collar, and demands that you pay attention.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Beautiful and Kind”

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Ladytron – Ladytron

Nimble synth poppers, Ladytron is back with an invigorating full-length that will send you back to your dusty New Order and Roxy Music LP’s, while giving you hope for the future. This self-titled release will scratch all the New Romantic, goth, synth-y itches you have (and, brothers and sisters, you do have them). It’s a dance floor sound, but the lighting must be low, the drugs should be copious, and the crowd has got to mind its own damn business. Paint your face up, and hit the town at 4am with Ladytron.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Paper Highways”

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Piroshka – Brickbat

Did you know that “Piroshka” is Hungarian for “missile”? Did you know this band consists of members of Lush, Elastica, and Modern English? No matter, this Hungarian (I don’t think anyone in this band is Hungarian, but I could be wrong) dreampop missile will have you gazing at your shoes in no time flat. They know how to rock up their sound, as well, like on the exquisite “Run for your Life.” I suspect this would be a great band to see in concert, and if you are in the U.K. or northern Europe, you should make an effort this spring.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Run for your Life”

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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 – Chaka Khan – Universal/Island Records; Ladytron – Ladytron Music; Piroshka – Bella Union; Ryan Bingham – Axster Bingham Records; and SWMRS – Fueled by Ramen.