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Shark Sandwich Album Reviews – Living Colour – Nick Cave – And Other New Music

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

September 9, 2016 – Vol. 22 

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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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Living Colour – Who Shot Ya? Mixtape

If you aren’t familiar with Living Colour at this point, by all means educate yourself with this genre-smashing, experimental rock and roll band. This e.p. is pointedly political with a cover of the Notorious B.I.G.’s song, as well as a number of remixes, including versions featuring Chuck D, and Black Thought, and a stunning instrumental dub version. Also included are two other studio tracks (one a cover of the Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel”) which may or may not be destined for their early 2017 release, Shade. Look, I could spend an entire column on the mighty Living Colour, and maybe I will, but if you even vaguely recall an awesome song from your adolescence called “Cult of Personality,” do yourself a favor in 2016.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Who Shot Ya?” (track one, not a remix with guest vocalists)

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Pansy Division – Quite Contrary

Sexual politics aside, Pansy Division is a killer rock band. They are pop-punk for people who also like Captain and Tennille. Openly gay, out there and loving it, Pansy Division has been rocking audiences of all persuasions with their crunchy pop, blunt lyrics, and disregard about what a “punk” band should sound like or be for over 23 years. Quite Contrary doesn’t really change up the formula much, but that’s okay. Get swept up with Pansy Division’s biting humor, advocacy, and rock and roll abandon on Quite Contrary.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Blame the Bible”

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M.I.A. – AIM

Some people have called M.I.A. overexposed, but sometimes it pays to not listen to “hits” radio and just go off the recommendations by NewsWhistle. As it is, AIM is full of big beats, laconic vocals, unique instruments, and thrumming keyboards twisting away along the edges. It is obvious she has a lot to say, and you know what, folks? Listen, or get the hell out of the way.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Visa”

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

The opening of Skeleton Tree is about as ominous as you can get, and this is saying a lot of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, who have made a long career of crafting some of the most ominous, disturbing, and dramatic fever dreams ever committed to tape. Devoid of rave ups, Skeleton Tree is a downbeat, sometimes claustrophobic song cycle of pain, both hidden and explicit. Nick Cave has been putting out consistently interesting material longer than you have been alive. Give him some love.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Jesus Alone”

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Wilco – Schmilco

Do I have to review Wilco? Turns out, if you read your contract carefully, it is right there: whenever Wilco releases something, you must write about it. After the surprise blast of noise that was last year’s Star Wars, Wilco is back with a much calmer, subdued album with Schmilco (is that the best or worst album title ever?). It’s got all the strumming and wide open spaces you have come to expect from your non-rock year Wilco. The good news is that they do it better than most, and consistently add touches that keep things interesting.

Rating: 3 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Cry All Day”

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clipping – Splendor & Misery

What a delightfully odd collection of songs clipping has given us! Minimalist soundscapes punctuated by complex, sometimes rapid rapid fire rapping. Listening to “The Breach” and “All Black” tied my tongue, and I wasn’t even trying to sing along. Splendor & Misery is a dense album that rewards repeated listens, and of course a good set of headphones are a must.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Wake Up”

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Teenage Fanclub – Here

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I became a HUGE fan of their 1991 album Bandwagonesque in the early 1990s. I still listen to it on a regular basis, but I never listened to any of Teenage Fanclub’s subsequent releases… until Here. If the band disappeared in 1991, and only just returned today with Here, it would make some sense. Some of the noise might be gone, edges sanded down by time, but the melodies and spirit are still there connected to all of our younger selves.

Rating: 3 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “The First Sight”

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All artists are available on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, 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 – Courtesy of clipping (Sub Pop); Living Colour (MRI); M.I.A. (Interscope Records); Nick Cave (Bad Seed Ltd); Pansy Division (601724 Records DK); Teenage Fanclub (Merge Records); and Wilco (dBmp Records).