SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go
August 10, 2018 – Vol. 82
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.
Notches – Almost Ruined Everything
There was a time in my past when I tried to record by myself, on a cassette four track machine in my basement, music just like what Notches has put out with Almost Ruined Everything. This is the sound of three lads from New Hampshire making a big noise, but it is as intimate as one person (me) playing instruments (badly) into a single microphone to dull a recent pain. I’m not saying Notches doesn’t know how to play their instruments at all, but skill isn’t the point. This is jagged, explosive punk-inspired emo-adjacent rock and roll, and it is meant to be played as loud as your speakers will allow. If you ever go through a rough period, and you want to smash it up as a one-person band, there is no need as Notches has done it for you with Almost Ruined Everything.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Don’t Lie to Me”
Nicki Minaj – Queen
Nicki Minaj is royalty, or at least that is what she would have you believe on Queen. Now, I’m not saying she is or she isn’t, but the album starts out with the perfectly tense “Ganja Burns” during which Minaj lays down the law about authenticity. It’s frequently hilarious like on the positively filthy “Barbie Dreams,” but the larger point of Queen is the power of the self. Believing in the power of yourself is royalty as much as anything, and Minaj has it, celebrates it, lives it, and wants you to find it in yourself, too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Ganja Burns”
Tomberlin – At Weddings
Born the daughter of a Baptist pastor, Tomberlin offers her debut, At Weddings, that feels fragile, and deeply personal. It also sounds a bit like church, in the best ways and without the worst. Like Nick Drake, Tori Amos, and Cat Power, Tomberlin utilizes quiet to invite the listener into songs that are often anything but calm. It’s quite a trick to be able to do it well, and Tomberlin has studied up, and largely succeeded. If you wake up early for brunch on Sunday, put At Weddings on, and relax with some coffee and your own personal congregation.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “A Video Game”
The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
The four friends in the Beths make a glorious racket on their smashing debut long player, Future Me Hates Me. They kick off with the tightly-wound “Great No One” before exploring the 90s on the title track. I just realized how funny it is that a song the sounds like the 1990s is called “Future Me Hates Me”! The Beths let their pop flag fly on “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” and basically keep their foot on the gas pedal for the rest of this fuzzy gem.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “You Wouldn’t Like Me”
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis – Wild! Wild! Wild!
We didn’t know how much we needed this old school country/rockabilly/honky tonk barnstormer from alt-country hero, Robbie Fulks, and the queen of rock and roll, Linda Gail Lewis (yes, Jerry Lee’s little sister). Kicking off with the lean, mean “Round Too Long,” the duo then slips into the hilariously titled weeper “I Just Lived a Country Song.” I am partial to the stompers, and Fulks and Lewis do not skimp on that front. Lewis also bangs a piano like her brother, and it is so bad ass. The two are probably at their best on the title track, but this whole album is required listening.
Rating: 4.5 out 5 whistles
Best Song: “Wild Wild Wild”
Lead-In Image – Composite
- Album and sleeve – Courtesy of imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
- Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
- Album collage – The Notches – Salinas Records; Nicki Minaj – Young Money/Cash Money Records; Tomberlin – Saddle Creek; The Beths – Carpark Records; and Robbie Fulks/Linda Gail Lewis – Bloodshot Records.