shark sandwich 78 new music

Album Reviews – The Jawhawks, Cowboy Junkies, and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

July 13, 2018 – Vol. 78

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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 Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandoned Motels

Easing into a Jayhawks album is like crawling into a warm sleeping bag under the stars and beside a dying fire. Back Roads and Abandoned Motels is mostly the band’s interpretation of songs bandleader Gary Louris has written for, or with, other people, such as Natalie Maine and Jakob Dylan. It opens with an effective sweet Southern soul version of “Come Cryin’ to Me” sung by keyboardist Karen Grotberg, before swinging into more familiar ‘Hawk’s territory with “Everybody Knows.” They cornered the market on wistful, slightly dark nostalgic Americana a long time ago, and they aren’t about to change it up in 2018. They have been doing this since the 80s with different members and some experiments along the way, but this brand of acoustic longing is their bread and butter and no one does it better.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Come Cryin’ to Me”

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Body/Head – The Switch

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace’s project, Body/Head, is bound to get your attention whether you like it or not. It is creepy, crawly, and how you react will depend on your feelings toward diffuse electric guitar droning, but I promise that if you really listen to The Switch you won’t forget it. Body/Head clearly takes cues from Gordon’s old band, Sonic Youth, but it makes them sound like One Direction by comparison. Listening to The Switch is like trying to hear an underwater earthquake from the other side of the globe. It is a fugue state that blurs the lines between awake and asleep, and might actually temporarily mess you up in a way that never knew you needed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: Impossible to say. I’m still messed up.

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Tom Bailey – Science Fiction

Lead singer of 80s mainstays Thompson Twins, Tom Bailey has issued his first solo outing with the adventurous Science Fiction. It will, of course, immediately remind you of the Neon Decade, but it will also remind you that the Thompson Twins were never really about crazy haircuts and shoulder pads. They were an expansive pop group, and Tom Bailey hasn’t lost that drive. Perhaps it is because the 80s nostalgia and references have been fair game for a while now, but if it is done well at this point there is a timelessness about the sound. Don’t bother listening to Science Fiction for a wink and a laugh–listen if you appreciate meticulously constructed pop.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Bring Back Yesterday”

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Save Face – Merci

Apparently, Merci by New Jersey’s Save Face is a concept record, but honestly just being 14 tracks of bruising rock and roll should be enough. It’s emo, it’s poppunk, it’s like Weezer recorded “The Blue Album” in 2018 instead of 1990whenveritwas. That last description wouldn’t serve Weezer very well, but it does come off as a positive for Save Face. It matters how the history is situated. The guitars ring, the vocal chords strain, and these songs clearly are personal, and deeply felt. Sometimes just playing rock and roll in 2018 can be a revolutionary act.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Reds” or “Love” (tie)

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Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning

Cowboy Junkies waltzed into our lives over 30 years ago, and they are still making some of the most haunting music out there. The songs on All That Reckoning appear out of thin air, and hang there begging the listener to give them form. It is mostly a hushed affair, which adds to the overall sense of looking a ghost in the eye, but they know when to turn things up instead of leaving it up to the listener. If there is a polling place somewhere, I would like to nominate “The Things We Do to Each Other” as the theme song for 2018. Oh man…

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “The Things We Do to 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 – The Jayhawks – Sony Legacy; Body/Head – Matador; Tom Bailey – BFD; Save Face – Epitaph; and Cowboy Junkies – Redeye Distribution.