shark sandwich 91 feature

Album Reviews – Lissie – Jai Wolf – Martha – and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

April 5, 2019 – Vol. 91

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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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Lissie – When I’m Alone: The Piano Retrospective

“Reimagining” your past songs can be tricky business, and I have to believe that Lissie understands this conundrum. Meant mostly for your existing fans, who can be a fickle lot, and compared directly to the original versions, exercises like When I’m Alone are best listened to apart from the original works as much as possible. I can’t say how well these songs work in conjunction with their earlier versions, but I can tell you that the piano+voice approach really, really works here. Intimate, and at times reminiscent of what Lady Gaga was attempting with Joanne, Lissie’s latest pulls you into a private performance that works on just about every level. The Fleetwood Mac cover of “Dreams” (hey, Lissie sounds a lot like Ms. Nicks!) is the icing on this cake best served warm, at the end of a tough day, alone, and tuned into nothing but the music.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Sleepwalking”

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Bella Novela – Incinerate

What an album title! Bella Novela come out of their corner swinging with Incinerate, threatening to burn down most anything that might be in their way. Unabashedly, unapologetically a hard rock band, Bella Novela are gunning for us all, for better or worse. Lead, follow, or get burned down. Full of fire, attitude, and big guitar riffs, perhaps the most surprising bit on Incinerate is how the pop side of the music is never, ever lost to the din.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Loved Ones”

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Lee Fields & the Expressions – It Rains Love

There is a difference between “vintage” or “nostalgic” and “classic,” something I imagine long-time soul man, Lee Fields, understands very well. Lots of folks know how to stand on the shoulders of giants and evoke “nostalgia” with a “vintage” sound, but Mr. Fields IS a giant who has been at the soul game since 1969. He’s a goddamn “classic”, a national treasure, and if you don’t love It Rains Love from the first minute, well, just don’t talk to me ever again. If his smooth, elastic soul doesn’t hit you square in the heart and feet, it is possible that you are dead. You should have that checked out. In the meantime, the rest of us will groove to It Rains Love and enjoy the summer of love 2019.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Wake Up”

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Jai Wolf – The Cure to Loneliness

Jai Wolf’s decision to open The Cure to Loneliness with the springy guitar pop of “Lose My Mind” is surely intentional, as it is impossible to feel alone in the middle of its echo-y trip to the beach. The whole album is a lush ecosystem of U2 and 80s-inspired indie rock. Chockablock with guest vocalists, Jai Wolf keeps it interesting with an unexpected warmth in the background, while the foreground is often a wonderland of icy studio trickery. Engaging for the entire runtime, Jai Wolf has gifted the gothiest among us a springtime album that we can all get behind.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Drowning” (feat. Robokid)

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Martha – Love Keeps Kicking

Calling Martha “punk” might be a little misleading. This is jangle-pop played loudly, quickly, and sung with 100% conviction. There are almost rootsy, dare I say “country,” flourishes throughout Martha’s latest album to keep things interesting. This is pedal-to-the-metal, damn-the-torpedoes music for your ride to bail your friend out of the drunk tank, or to buy bricks at the hardware store. How you use the fun, energetic music (or the bricks) is up to you, but use it up because spring 2019 is the perfect time for a soundtrack to your delinquent side.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Mini was a Preteen Arsonist” (song title of the year!)

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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 – Lissie – Cooking Vinyl; Bella Novela – Bella Novela; Jai Wolf – Mom + Pop Music; Lee Fields & the Expressions – Big Crown Records; and Martha – Dirt Nap Records.