SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go
August 4, 2017 – Vol. 49
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.
Dan Wilson – Re-Covered
Minneapolis musician, Dan Wilson, has been working at beautiful pop music since 1987, first with Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, before going solo. Over the years he has worked with, and written or co-written songs for, the likes of Pink, the Dixie Chicks, John Legend, and Adele, and it is these songs that make up Re-Covered. He is (get it?) recovering songs that are largely already his, and it is a thrill to hear Wilson own songs made famous by other folks. This is front-porch-ready music, stripped largely to the acoustic bone, played and sung with the conviction of ownership. He is proud of these songs, so put Re-Covered on at a quiet get together, and watch the fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Not Ready to Make Nice” (Written with the Dixie Chicks)
Black Grape – Pop Voodoo
Black Grape rose from the druggy ashes of the Happy Mondays, and enjoyed critical acclaim, success, and break ups in the 90s. In 2017, Shaun Ryder and co. are riding soul waves above busy rhythms and funky guitars on Pop Voodoo. The best one can say is that it sounds like Black Grape. Honestly, this is good thing, as they are a party band at heart, and know how to get down. Put this on at your next late-night party, and if the crowd isn’t grooving it is time to get new friends.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistle
Best Song: “Shame”
Briana Marela – Call It Love
Angelic, ethereal, opaque, Briana Marela’s new album Call It Love is the sun trying to break through an overcast sky. This is ambient folk that knows when the listener needs a solid rhythm. It is fine to roam, but Marela knows how to anchor it throughout the album, never letting the listener get entirely swallowed up in the gloom and mists of consciousness. This is like listening to Bjork through headphones made of water.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “I’m Sorry”
Randy Newman – Dark Matter
Topical, witty, sharp, and supremely weird, Randy Newman returns with a new album of original, non-movie songs. It opens with an eight-minute tin pan alley gospel number that talks about dark matter, evolution, science, animals, and how it all works together (or doesn’t). It’s out there, and at times, Dark Matter delves into some truly dark matter, but it never feels like a dirge, it never leaves its sense of fun. Newman’s delivery has always been unique, instantly you know his voice, and this playfulness hides the blade. No one does it better.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “On the Beach”
Naomi Punk – Yellow
Is Naomi Punk’s Yellow their Double Nickels on the Dime? It is as audacious as the Minutemen’s magnum opus, but lacking (intentionally lacking, methinks) focus makes Yellow incredibly difficult to review. It sounds like if Phish gave up guitar solos and jazzy undertones, and fully embraced anarchy, chopping up their songs into tiny bites of broken glass. Truth be told Yellow isn’t very listenable (again, very intentionally), but it is bold as most anything out there. Credit where credit is due.
Rating #1 – Artistic Ambition: 5 out of 5 whistles
Rating #2 – Listenability: 2 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Journey to the Top”
Lead-In Image – Composite
- Album and sleeve – Courtesy of imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
- Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
- Album collage – Briana Marela – Jagjaguwar; Dan Wilson – Ballroom Music/Big Deal Media; Randy Newman – Nonesuch Records; Naomi Punk – Captured Tracks; and Black Grape – Radioactive.