Happy 100th, Shark Sandwich! Our Favorite 21 Albums… So Far!!!


Shark Sandwich, Vol. 100 – Special Edition

Reflections and Reminiscences, August 14, 2019


Shark Sandwich is easily one of my favorite parts of the week. Okay, okay… I may not write one every week, but it is a wonderful part of the weeks that I do post one. This is the 100th Sandwich, and that seems like a perfect time to step back, take account, and reflect on the column as well as the music it has showcased.

Music is special, not just to me. I hope it reaches your soul, too. I hope that you, like me, sometimes listen to a song that you have heard many times before, and imagine what it was like to hear it for the first time. Is it a Jimi Hendrix, Dylan, or Otis Redding song? The Ramones? Nirvana? Destiny’s Child? Did it alter the musical landscape, as well as your own personal understanding of what music can do to and for a person?

Of course it did, and does. Music is magic.

Spinal Tap is a must-view for any music fan, or any fan of smart funny movies in general. The movie still matters, and the review of their fictional album, Shark Sandwich, is hilarious, as well as being the perfect model for how an album review should be.

My reviews, limited to five sentences, might not be as brutally abrupt and incisive that one, but I try to trim the fat and keep it moving along even if I have to bend the rules of grammar to do it at times. I hope that I adequately described the sound and tone of the albums I have reviewed within this self-imposed constraint, but in re-reading some of them I realize I might have missed the mark. Shark Sandwich was never going to be perfect, but hopefully it is helpful from time to time.

NewsWhistle rates on a scale of one to five whistles, and it is important to note that I very, very rarely rate an album below three whistles. Why? Am I uncritical? Nope. For all my talk of music being this wonderful part of the human experience, some music is truly dreadful. I don’t spend any time on music that I don’t at least like. Snark isn’t the point of the Sandwich. There are plenty of places on the interwebs for that, and there is no shame in seeking it out. It’s just not what NewsWhistle is about.



I put this playlist together from the “key tracks” of the below list of five whistle reviews. It is in chronological order, and constitutes an absolutely killer collection of music from 2016 – 2019. I hope you enjoy it.

What does it mean to receive the coveted five whistle review? I’m not sure what it means to the artists, if anything. It really is more about me, to be honest. And you! A five whistle album moved me, and knocked my socks off above and beyond the call of duty, and it is my sincere hope that you felt the same way when you listened for the first time.


  1. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth 17 April 2016
  2. Beach Slang – Here, I Made this for You (Mixtape Vol. 1) 23 July 2016
  3. Matthew Ryan – Hustle Up Starlings 15 May 2017
  4. Thea Gilmore – The Counterweight 5 June 2017
  5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound 19 June 2017
  6. The Suburbs – Hey Muse! 24 June 2017
  7. Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm 17 July 2017
  8. Ghostpoet – Dark Days + Canapes 27 August 2017
  9. Dead Cross – Dead Cross 27 August 2017
  10. INHEAVEN – INHEAVEN 4 September 2017
  11. Ibeyi – Ash 2 October 2017
  12. King Leg – Meet King Leg 24 October 2017
  13. Margo Price – All American Made 24 October 2017
  14. Dessa – Chime 28 February 2018
  15. JB Dunckel – H+ 21 March 2018
  16. Bettye LaVette – Things Have Changed 4 April 2018
  17. Le Butcherettes – bi/MENTAL 4 February 2019
  18. Jenny Lewis – On the Line 26 March 2019
  19. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You 25 April 2019
  20. L7 – Scatter the Rats 6 May 2019
  21. Black Pumas – Black Pumas 26 June 2019


There it is, in all of its glory. For the most part, I think it holds up. There might be some minor internal quibbles about whether or not releases comprised entirely of covers can truly be five whistle material, or whether so-and-so album still moves me the way it did the first time I heard it. I think the larger issue might be the albums that should have been on the list.

Algiers’ The Underside of Power probably should have been five whistles; same with Ibibio Sound Machine and J. Roddy Walston & the Business. What’s done is done, though. 21 five whistle reviews out of 500, 4% of the total, makes the list as it is pretty exclusive, and I am happy with it.

I reached out to a couple of the artists on this list for a comment on Shark Sandwich, and Chan Poling of the Suburbs was either a.) the first to respond, b.) said the nicest thing about me (spoiler: it was both).

He said, “Congratulations to Chad on his 100th piece, shining a critical light on the world of pop music!”

That’s a wrap (check’s in the mail, Chan). Don’t like it? Make your own list. I welcome it. The more engaged listeners, the better. See you soon with #101.


All artists are available on iTunesAmazonGooglePlay, and wherever else better music is sold, streamed, downloaded, or performed on tour.


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).


Lead-In Image – Composite

  • Album and sleeve – Courtesy of  imagefactory / Shutterstock.com
  • Main album cover – Courtesy of Blablo101 / Shutterstock.com
  • “Red Candles showing Nr. 100” – Courtesy of Fernando Sanchez Cortes / Shutterstock.com