shark sandwich 77 feature 1

Album Reviews – Florence + The Machine, Essex Green and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

June 29, 2018 – Vol. 77

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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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Florence + The Machine – High As Hope

Like a hot summer day, Florence + The Machine are all about the burn on High As Hope. Opener, “June,” builds like humidity until the thunderheads rise and rise into the emotional showers of “Hunger.” It seems a little silly to say that Florence Welch really lets her voice do the talking on this album, but that voice is so expressive that the description fits. Welch’s vocals drive the songs into the stratosphere, sometimes unexpectedly so. The vocal swells along with shifting instrumental drive is what makes the album an interesting listen–all torch songs, longing, and secrets just below the surface.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Patricia”

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The Essex Green – Hardly Electronic

The Essex Green is a time machine. There is a late 60s folk sensibility, but also a strong AM radio pop haze hanging around the tracks on the aptly-named Hardly Electronic. Lots and lots (most?) bands mine the past for what they want in the music they are making, but the Essex Green lives in it. When you see this band in concert, it probably looks like footage from an Old Grey Whistle Test episode. It’s quite a trick to pull it off completely, and this band does it well; ignoring disco, punk, new wave, grunge, hip hop, etc., and instead focusing on what makes them, and hopefully us, happy.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Don’t Leave it in our Hands”

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Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Grammar nerds, Let’s Eat Grandma are here to make your summer more interesting. This UK duo opens I’m All Ears with the ominous instrumental “Whitewater,” and then immediately settle into the breezy, lilting “Hot Pink.” This is the story of the album, really. Danceable tracks with a subtle creeping darkness is the order of the day, taking cues from trip hop from years past, and the result is intoxicating. Bring this to the beach, and confuse the shit out of your fellow sunbathers.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Snakes & Ladders”

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The Alarm – Equals

I’ve always loved the Alarm, and in particular the Welsh cancer-survivor, rock and roll true believer, and band revisionist singer and front man, Mike Peters. He is back with Equals, a lovingly bombastic statement of purpose from someone who has never lost his faith in the power of music, meant for like-minded listeners. Peters and his new Alarm spend this album breathlessly playing as if they were reshaping the world in real time, and you are either on board with this idea or you aren’t. Equals isn’t going to replace the Alarm’s self-titled debut EP or Change, but it is forceful reminder that Mike Peters would still gladly bleed out on stage if it could save a life.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Crowd Trouble”

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The Interrupters – Fight the Good Fight

Two-tone ska pop punkers, the Interrupters, much like Mike Peters (above) want you to believe in their music. The band wants to lift you up, so that you can positively affect your world. I recently talked a little bit about ska, and the gist of it is that it is a lot of fun, and that infectiousness can really help the message take hold. There is no better example than the nimble, rousing call to arms “Got Each Other” (featuring members of Rancid). You are not alone, dear listener, you never were, and the Interrupters will have your back forevermore, amen.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Got Each Other”

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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 – Florence + The Machine – Virgin/EMI; Essex Green – Merge Records; Let’s Eat Grandma – Transgressive; The Alarm – Twenty First Century Recording Co.; and The Interrupters – Hellcat/Epitaph.