shark sandwich 53 feature album reviews

The Latest Album Reviews – Tori Amos, The National, and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

September 8, 2017 – Vol. 53

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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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Tori Amos – Native Invader

Opening with the harrowing, circular seven-minute “Reindeer King,” Tori Amos is back with a powerful rumination on family, nature, and what it feels like to live in 2017 America. From plaintive piano work, dusty folk, to dubby experimentations, Native Invader is a wholly satisfying, if a little unsettling, listen. Amos has never been an “easy” listen, and this new album is no exception. “Up the Creek” is an exceptional track with its nimble tempo, ball-of-nerves sensibility, and dare I say danceability? Put on Native Invader when you want to confront your aging and the state of the world, but you don’t necessarily need to feel better about either.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Up the Creek”

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Ted Leo – The Hanged Man

Ted Leo knows how to make a guitar growl, let’s just get that out there right off the bat. He plays nearly all of the instruments on The Hanged Man, and the slow crawling burn of opener, “Moon out of Phase,” is hypnotic. Leo also, obviously, has a pop side that is on display through out the album. Leo can sometimes veer close to Paul Westerberg’s solo basement ragers like “You’re Like Me,” and I am sure that will be taken as a compliment. The bulk of the album’s up-tempo rock and roll is wonderful, but I have a hard time not playing the opening track over and over again.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Moon out of Phase”

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The National – Sleep Well Beast

Any album named Sleep Well Beast, boasting tracks like “Nobody Else Will Be There” and “Day I Die,” is going to be a dark affair. The National don’t do anything without gothic drama, and their Nick Cave-meets-U2 approach squeezes every last bit of emotion from this song cycle. There is plenty of blurred out, dark-around-the-edges crooning, but the National know how to cut it loose, too, like on “Day I Day” and “Turtleneck.” This is a special band unafraid of arting up their mope rock, and when the time is right it just hits you.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best song: “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”

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Beaches – Second of Spring

I feel like there are a ton of bands out there with “beach” names, and that’s cool because, hey, beaches are fun. Australia’s Beaches are a ferocious, psychedelic shoe gazing rock and roll band that is rarely, if ever, short of thrilling. The band treats the lyrics and vocals much like the obvious influence of My Bloody Valentine: it’s the impression that counts, not the specifics. There is danger with Beaches–a knife hidden in a boot, a lot of noise in tube amplifiers. Walk with Beaches, but don’t cross them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “When You’re Gone”

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Living Colour – Shade

… And then there is Living Colour, a long time favorite who has been turning out intensely melodic and interesting heavy duty rock and roll jams since back in the 1980s. A lot of talk has been made about Shade is their “blues album,” but shit, the blues has been part of Living Colour’s formula (along with punk, metal, funk, jazz, etc.) since day one. There are certainly more “bluesy” elements at the surface, but Living Colour gonna Living Colour and thank goodness for that. Come for the Biggie Smalls cover (“Who Shot Ya”), stay for the raging rock and roll delivered by some of the best in the business.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Best Song: “Inner City Blues”

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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 – Living Colour – MRI; Beaches – Chapter Music; Ted Leo – SuperEgo Records; Tori Amos – Decca Records; and The National – 4AD.