SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go
June 16, 2017 – Vol. 43
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.
Beth Ditto – Fake Sugar
Ditto opens smooth, quiet, and slinky with “Fire” off of her superb Fake Sugar. The album embraces her roots, and the resulting album is best described as “Southern disco.” Fake Sugar rocks, it is soulful, gritty, expressive, and at times, the songs are nothing short of anthemic–soaring statements of human triumph. Being able to jump around and shake your ass for nearly the entire running time is both a bonus, and the very reason why the concoction works so well on Fake Sugar.
Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “We Could Run”
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
I can’t tell you if erstwhile Drive By Trucker Jason Isbell (along with 400 Unit) has captured the exact sound of Nashville, TN, but I can tell you that it doesn’t matter. The Nashville Sound is full of elegant, acoustic, American laments, and when he howls about righting the ship on “Hope the High Road,” you feel it, you know it. Everything is going to be okay if we’re willing to work for it. There is anger here, real burning anger on “White Man’s World,” but it is blazing over coals of righteousness and inclusion. The Nashville Sound is a stunner.
Rating: 5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “White Man’s World”/”Hope the High Road” (tie – they are closely connected, unsurprisingly)
2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
Often suffocating and unsettling, 2 Chainz’s Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is a slog. It’s long, and the raps come almost as chants or mantras that are hypnotizing once you get used to the rhythms. Shake your head, clear your thoughts, come back to reality, and you might be glad you took the trip, but you are happy to be back. 2 Chainz has created a world that pulls you completely. It isn’t always pleasant, but it is all-encompassing.
Rating: 3 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Trap Check”
Lorde – Melodrama
After some muscle stretching, Lorde’s opening track, “Green Light,” opens into a full sprint, and it is irresistible. Melodrama is, of course, perfectly named, and that is undoubtedly intentional. She addresses “the headlines” and her age directly on “Perfect Places,” so Lorde knows how she appears to the public. She confronts it while delivering a satisfying artistic statement that is never boring or sullen. Be glad Lorde is only 20.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “Perfect Places”
Steve Earle & the Dukes – So You Wannabe an Outlaw
Steve Earle’s backstory could fill ten novels, and you would still have a thick, interesting biography as well. Whether he is rocking the country, Americana, folk, or, well, rock, Earle is an outlaw in a very real sense. So You Wannabe an Outlaw is what the man does best: confront the listener with slice of life stories and clenched fists. After really getting to know an artist like Earle, you might not actually wannabe an outlaw. Just be happy that he went through it, and is willing to tell us all about it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles
Best Song: “This is How it Ends”
Lead-In Image – Composite
- Album and sleeve – Courtesy of imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
- Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
- Album collage – 2 Chainz – Def Jam; Beth Ditto – Capitol Records; Jason Isbell – Southeastern Records; Lorde – Lava Music; and Steve Earle – Warner Bros.