shark sandwich 103 - album reviews - feature

Album Reviews – Son Little – Smoke Fairies – and more!

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SHARK SANDWICH – Fast Album Reviews for Those on the Go

January 31, 2020 – Vol. 103

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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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Polica –When We Stay Alive

The skittering rhythms, the detached vocals, the burbling keyboard noises…There is no mistaking Polica when you hear them. This Minneapolis dream pop unit sounds like the memory of a fever dream you had when you were a kid, recalling only the broad strokes, the emotion, and no real detail. Polica is the best kind of impressionism, like dancing in the fog and trying to count the water droplets. When We Stay Alive is the band’s gauziest record, devoid of sharp edges, and leading you on a journey from dream to the real only to realize they are possibly one and the same.

Rating: 4 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Steady”

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Son Little – aloha

“Aloha” means, as far as this reporter knows, “hello,” “love,” and “goodbye” in Hawaiian, and that seems to cover aloha by Son Little. This is subtle, sly, restrained soul music for the new decade. In fact, the most aggressive feature of the album seems to be the funky guitar riff knowingly or unknowingly lifted from The Fixx on the opener, “hey rose.” This is not a complaint, though, as aloha isn’t about aggression. It exists to encourage self-reflection, sitting quietly in a field, pondering all the things right, wrong, beginning, and ending in one’s life.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “about her. again.”

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Light Beams – Self Help

Energetic, infectious, and buoyant, Light Beams bust out of the grooves on Self Help, and beyond a list of adjectives it is hard to describe the sound. You just have to hear it for yourself. I can understand the sound might turn some folks off, but the busy, good-time pop makes me want to put a daisy into the mouth of a television talking head. If you ever wanted to forget the world as it burns around you, I think you could do a lot worse than Light Beams.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Flash-Bang Grenade”

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Curren$y – The Tonight Show with Curren$y

Curren$y has been hustling as a performer, songwriter, and record producer for the better part of 18 years, so maybe it is time for the guy to have his own late night talk show. Music obviously comes easily for him, and that is evident in the feel of The Tonight Show. The boasts are front and center, calling money his “bottom” on “Round 3 Times,” and for the most part this rings true throughout the effortless construction of the songs. Overall, though, the sound is that of a party that has continued well past midnight. The good stuff is gone, and those still there are forced with the decision to leave on top or start breaking into the Boones Farm.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: “Easy Hard”

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Smoke Fairies – Darkness Brings the Wonders Home

OK, being unfamiliar with Smoke Fairies is no excuse, so take it from me, you should prepare yourself if you dive into this haunting masterpiece (you should). It sounds like Sleater-Kinney made an album with the ghost of Robert Johnson, and had it produced by PJ Harvey. Darkness Brings the Wonders Home is perfectly named. While it is a dense, foreboding affair, that heaviness highlights the dreaminess and possibilities. The guitar is subtle and slippery, the rhythms contained; the vocal harmonies are gorgeous, and the final document will keep you balanced on the knife’s edge between darkness and light, and stay with you for a while.

Rating: 5 out of 5 whistles

Key Track: (take your pick, but) “Elevator”

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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 – Smoke Fairies – Year Seven Records; Light Beams – Don Giovanni Records; Curren$y – RBC Records; Son Little – ANTI/Epitaph; and Polica – Memphis Industries.