shark sandwich 95 - album reviews - feature

Album Reviews – the National – Alex Lahey – and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

May 17, 2019 – Vol. 95

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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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Shark Sandwich, Vol. 95 – Speedy Album Reviews for Those on the Go

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Steel Pulse – Mass Manipulation

Steel Pulse has been around seemingly forever, and while that makes this roots reggae outfit easy to take for granted, you ought not. The first eight seconds of “Rize” might sound a bit like Queen, but then it is chapter and verse rebel music. The topics explored on the album are, as one would expect, heavy, and the musicianship is tight and full of bounce to help the truth go down. If hearing “don’t shoot” sung over lilting horns and organ lines don’t stoke up a fire in your belly, Steel Pulse is probably not for you. If it does, put your hands in the air, and sway like it might just change the world.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Black and White Oppressors”

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Institute – Readjusting the Locks

Texas punkers Institute are from the wrong decade. They sound like a lot of the best SST bands from 34 years ago mashed up with Mission of Burma (wait, was MoB on SST?). Comparisons are always dicey, but I think this one fits, or at least helps make sense of the chaotic, yet weirdly streamlined sound of Readjusting the Locks. You don’t have to grow up, you know? Institute will make you want to spray paint your windows, and get that Black Flag tatt you always talked about back in the day.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Roll Music”

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the National – I Am Easy to Find

Immediately less mopey (not that there is anything wrong with that) than preceding albums, I Am Easy to Find by the National might be their POP or Achtung Baby, or I don’t know – maybe not. They might be easy to find, but not so easy to ultimately figure out. This has always been an inventive band, and the tendency to go left when you expect right is alive and well here. The herky jerky “The Pull of You” will have you puzzling over where the thread ultimately is on the track. “Where is Her Head” is wicked dancepop, but it is the nearly seven minute lament, “Not in Kansas,” that will stop you in your tracks. Let it, give in to it with headphones and solitude, because this is the National at their best.

 Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Not in Kansas”

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Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

Art isn’t always easy to define, and Tyler, the Creator certainly proves this point on IGOR. It is an immersive experience; the tracks blending together is a smooth chicken soup for your soul. It’s not that it is easy listening at all, but there is a deliberate buzz and low throb throughout the song cycle that clearly says, “This is IGOR, and nothing else.” Plus you have to love an artist that ends his album with “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and then “Are We Still Friends?” This album isn’t for your Memorial Day party, unless it’s the after-hours version, but it’s meant for an intimate communion between Tyler and yourself, which is exactly the sort of respect you ought to give it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Running Out of Time”

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Alex Lahey – The Best of Luck Club

Alex Lahey might not get invited to parties anymore, but it’s hard to understand why. She seems perfectly pleasant, and she can pick up any guitar and melt any face in the room. I mean this in the best possible way, I really do, but Lahey sounds like what Bob Mould’s Sugar might have sounded like fronted by the edgy new Taylor Swift. I don’t know what that exactly means, but take a listen and see what you think. The Best of Luck Club is a more nuanced, mature version of 2017’s I Love You Like a Brother; some of the corners might be sanded off, but when it is on, it is on.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Am I Doing it Right”

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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 – Alex Lahey – Dead Oceans; Institute – Sacred Bones Records; Steel Pulse – Rootfire Cooperative/Wiseman Doctrine; the National – 4AD; and Tyler, the Creator – Columbia Records