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New Album Reviews – Calexico, Marmozets, and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

January 26, 2018 – Vol. 64

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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 River High – Blood & Darkness

Minneapolis meat and potatoes rock band, The River High, come out of the gates harmonizing and building like the Civil Wars on the opener, “Jordan River,” but it is the next track, “K.I.S.S.,” that seals the deal. It unapologetically shimmies and bounces around like professional grade boogie from another time and place. Blood & Darkness sits comfortably in the middle of harmonizing doom folk and southern-style stoner rock. No pretension or poses, this band pushes you over the park bench, steals your smokes, and screeches out of the parking lot before you can even think to respond. The last sentence was a compliment.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “K.I.S.S.”

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Calexico – The Thread that Keeps Us

Dusty and dreamy, Calexico powers into your consciousness with a number of tight, strong songs before things get weird. Not bad, mind you, just… out there. Calexico spends the rest of the album sounding like the child of Camper Van Beethoven and Flaming Lips mixing it up with a mariachi band. They have been slinging their “desert noir” sound for years, and they don’t need my hot take, but The Thread that Keeps Us is an accomplished set that is a great introduction to the band for newbies, and a solid reason the fans keep coming back.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “End of the Night”

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Nightmares on Wax – Shape the Future

Far from a bad dream, Nightmares on Wax deals in jazzy, ethereal expressions that calm the spirit instead of disquieting the heart and mind. Putting Shape the Future while falling asleep might affect your dreams, but I suspect in a good or, at worst, strange way. It’s the kind of album ought to offend no one at your dinner party, and therein lies both the strength and weakness at the same time. It has its time and place. When it is right, it is right as rain, and when it isn’t, it is smooth background noise.

Rating: 3 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “On It Maestro”

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Marmozets – Knowing What You Know Now

Are you rock and roll enough for Marmozets? They are an exciting throat punch from the U.K. that you were probably not expecting. There is enough energy in these twelve tracks to power a future Mars colony, and I fully believe that in concert Marmozets must be positively insane. “New Religion” will make you want to steal a car, and goddamn if the beginning of “Like a Battery” doesn’t bear a striking similarity to the Magnum P.I. theme song. These two observations are related, somehow.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “New Religion”

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The Spook School – Could it be Different?

ANOTHER awesome band from Scotland (we’ve talked about Scotland here, and here)?! The Spook School’s manic energy and nerd rock stance is disarming and disorienting. The music is so effortlessly delivered, it is easy to forget how punky and jagged the sentiment is in reality. In a weird way, I feel like this is what Weezer wants to sound like–They Might Be Giants crossed with the Buzzcocks.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “I Hope She Loves You”

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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 – Calexico – Anti/Epitaph; Marmozets – Roadrunner Records

    Nightmare on Wax – Warp Records; Spook School – Slumberland Records; and The High River – The Law Collective.