feature shark sandwich 67

New Album Reviews – Superchunk, U.S. Girls, and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

February 16, 2018 – Vol. 67

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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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Superchunk – What A Time To Be Alive

Holy shit does Superchunk blast off the pad with the opening, title track of What A Time To Be Alive! Does this veteran DIY rock and roll institution keep up the pace, though? Happily, gleefully they keep their foot on the gas pedal from start to finish, not showing their age, buzzing and snarling through these eleven barn stormers. They just don’t make ‘em like Superchunk anymore. Blow off a little steam with What A Time To Be Alive, and key your neighbor’s Lexus.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Reagan Youth”

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Annie Mack – Tell It Like It Is

Annie Mack delivers the goods on this all too short EP. This Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter gives us a greater emotional wallop than the track listing would imply. Riding a similar wave as Alabama Shakes, Mack is wise, and has a lot to say about living your real life. Whether she is feisty and defiant as on the title track, or tender and yearning on “Closer,” she is burying her past, and inviting you to come along on her journey. People get ready, take the train to your present and future with Ms. Mack.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Just Do Right”

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Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You

Listening to Brandi Carlile, you can almost smell the candles, tapestries, and crackling transistor radio. On her previous album, Carlile rocked it out a lot more overtly, but on By The Way, I Forgive You there is no lack of drama. She rolls up her sleeves, and lets the words fly in her signature, hard to define cadence. She tries out a skittering march on “Hold Out Your Hand,” and bubbling pop with “Sugartooth,” but through it all is Brandi Carlile. If you have read this far, you probably already own this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Sugartooth”

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U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited

U.S. Girls, the project of Toronto by way of Philadelphia multi-disciplinary artist Meghan Remy, throws all the pasta against the wall on In A Poem Unlimited. This mash up of Shaft meets Abba all sticks, too.

There are shades of indie rock, performance art, and dance rhythms riding a wave of 70s fuzz tone guitar at the backbone of this engaging album. This is a party album for the thoughtful introvert, a gourmet, multi-course meal served by a chef that, in addition to starches and proteins, cooks with saffron smoke, and a science kit of nitrogen-laced lavender bubbles and freeze-dried ocean scent. Dig in.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Poem”

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Marlon Williams – Make Way For Love

Acclaimed singer/songwriter from New Zealand, Marlon Williams’ dark folk and breathy vocals rightfully invite comparisons to Chris Isaak. Make Way For Love is the night slightly vibrating after midnight, a half-drunk bottle of red wine in the lap, book on the floor, head back on the pillow party for one. You aren’t going to dance to this one, but your brain is going to hum and echo. It’ll make you stumble, woozy for no reason other than being in the hands of someone who knows your heartstrings are the same as his own.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “I Know a Jeweler”

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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 – U.S. Girls – 4AD; Marlon Williams – Dead Oceans; Annie Mack – Deck Night; Brandi Carlile – New Elektra; and Superchunk – Merge Records.