shark sandwich 59 album review feature

New Album Reviews – Stereophonics, Julien Baker, and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

October 27, 2017 – Vol. 59

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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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Stereophonics – Scream Above the Sounds

Survivors of the 1990s U.K. music scene, Stereophonics in 2017 are serving up some pretty damn satisfying rock and roll. They aren’t re-writing the playbook, but these cats know their way around a hook, and they get extra credit for aping Blondie’s “Hanging on the Telephone” with their own “Taken a Tumble.” Scream Above the Sounds starts strong, gets a little uneven in the middle, but ends nicely with a very American barroom stomper, “Cryin’ in Your Beer,” and the spare ballad, “Boy on a Bike.” It might not set the world on fire, but it could certainly make your Saturday night more interesting.

Rating: 3 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Taken a Tumble”

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Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights

Turn Out the Lights, the new album by Memphis singer/songwriter Julien Baker, is so intimate that it borders on voyeuristic and indecent. It is just right there, laying at your feet; not quite dying in front of you, but not exactly jumping with joy either. This is the focal point of Baker’s musical drama, where moving on feels impossible, but wallowing in whatever trauma just assaulted you isn’t a realistic option. This is the singer who turned a Jawbreaker song into a torch song, though. If you have insomnia, put this on. It won’t put you to sleep, but it will make you feel less alone.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Claws in Your Back”

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Bootsy Collins – World Wide Funk

I only have five sentences, so if you are looking for a history of Bootsy, you have come to the wrong place, and frankly all hope may be lost for you. “Bootsy was coming…” says the voiceover that opens the title track of World Wide Funk, and if you aren’t ready to party at that moment, again, all hope may be lost for you. This is a star-studded guest list of an album, but it doesn’t take away from the otherworldly bass theatrics of Bootsy himself. He dances all over your backbone, and kicks your ass with hardcore grooves. Your party sucks if it doesn’t include some Bootsy, son.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Boomerang”

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Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie

Jake Ewald’s alter-ego, Slaughter Beach, Dog, reminds one a bit of the Eels without the prickliness. It is definitely the sound of a singer/songwriter working by himself, but like Paul Westerberg and Mark Oliver Everett, he knows when to flesh the sound out. Birdie is never boring, and that is a testament to the song writing as well as the care given to the arrangements. This is the sort of album you put on, blurry on a Sunday morning, as you consider cleaning up your place. It will inspire you to break out the Swiffer, and that is correct decision.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Pretty O.K.”

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Baxter Dury – Prince of Tears

Baxter Dury has music in his blood, and it flows over the lounge-ish charm and smarm of Prince of Tears. There is a clarity on this album, musically and vocally, that is admirable, and it really lets the occasional lyrical meanness shine through (“Miami”). The listener can almost always easily tell what is going on. The songs rarely get speedy or distorted, instead sounding like the cantina scene in Star Wars – A New Hope if they got rid of all the aliens. It’s catchy as hell, in this and any galaxy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Letter Bomb”

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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 – Baxter Dury – Heavenly Recordings; Bootsy Collins – World Wide Funk; Julien Baker – Matador Records; Slaughter Beach, Dog – Lame-O Records; and Stereophonics – Warner Brothers Records/Parlophone.