SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go
March 30, 2018 – Vol. 72
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:
Welcome to our “Shark Sandwich” — razor-sharp reviews that sum up an album in five sentences or less.
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – No Mercy In This Land
This is rock-hard blues for rock-hard times. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite’s second collaboration is a simply stunning exploration of Chicago blues that will make you shimmy while it breaks your heart. Musselwhite’s harp dances all over Harper’s dirty guitar and expressive, weary-but-amped vocals, making No Mercy In This Land the real deal. Turn down the lights, and drop the needle on this album. It will make you feel better if you are low, and bring you into the muddy Mississippi if you need a reality check.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Found the One”
The Vaccines – Combat Sports
The Vaccines’ Combat Sports is not a mash up of the Clash’s Combat Rock and Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports, but the Clash reference might not be too far from the mark. This freewheeling London band’s latest skewers sacred cows like love, Americans, and the Rolling Stones as only a bunch of young people living for now can do. I have a hunch that if you asked them, they don’t have a lot of reverence for the past, and that is just fine. They bring the rock and roll to your doorstep, ring the bell, and punch your face when you answer.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Rolling Stones”
Lindi Ortega – Liberty
Mexican-Irish Canadian cowboy noir musician, Lindi Ortega, is already cooler and more interesting than most everyone else simply from that description. It’s not a pose, though. She really is cool, and effortlessly, so it would seem. This is a dusty, wind-swept song cycle that rewards repeated listens. This is reportedly a concept album about coming out of the darkness, but I don’t know, as it is pretty dark and frankly the songs easily stand on their own.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “You Ain’t Foolin’ Me”
MF DOOM & Czarface – Czarface Meets Metal Face
Everyone’s favorite masked hip hop villain, MF DOOM, is back to his old ways, this time collaborating with supergroup, Czarface. Icy beats with slightly detached vocals dominate this layered, oppressive effort. The overall evenness of the album is both admirable and suffocating. Nothing ever just cuts loose, but instead the whole effort is menacingly paced so that it feels like you are being hunted by a very patient beast.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “MF Czar”
Bettye LaVette – Things Have Changed
A whole album of Dylan interpretations by a bona fide American treasure –- yes, please! Bettye LaVette has been vocal soul royalty for decades now, and Dylan’s songs are, well, canonized. It’s an absolutely perfect combination, as LaVette has been rearranging and reinterpreting songs since the 1960s, and there are few catalogs as rich as Mr. Zimmerman’s. Remember the look on Roger Daltry’s face when she absolutely slayed the Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” (check out 1:34)? That’s your face, for the entirety of this album.
Rating: 5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)”
Lead-In Image – Composite
- Album and sleeve – Courtesy of imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
- Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
- Album collage – Ben Harper/Charlie Musselwhite – Anti/Epitaph Records; The Vaccines – Columbia; Lindi Ortega – Shadowbox Music; MF DOOM/Czarface – Silver Age; and Bettye LaVette – Verve.