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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
To Remember/To Forget
Sleep Recordings

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
There is something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately for Matt Arbogast, the right time for his album To Remember/To Forget might have passed by the time the din from Connor Oberst's Fevers & Mirrors subsided. When Oberst unleashed his natural tremolo on his second album under the Bright Eyes moniker he dropped an anvil in the ocean and made waves crash on every shore. When Matt Arbogast puts his quavering vocals to tape on his second album under the moniker of The Gunshy, the results are less profound. While I wouldn't use pissing in a bucket as an appropriate metaphor to describe the consequence of To Remember/To Forget, I wouldn't exactly say it's eroding any shoreline either.

I feel like it's a bit of a cop-out to use the Oberst comparison excessively when reviewing To Remember/To Forget, but it's either that or a similar comparison to Canadian folkster Hayden Desser, a fellow who does a much better job at the muted storytelling that Arbogast attempts. Where Bright Eyes excels is in the intricate arrangements and complexity of instrumentation on the Bright Eyes album, but The Gunshy primarily operates on voice and a few thin guitar chords alone. Acoustic minimalism need not be a death knell, however, and Hayden's endearing Skyscraper National Park is a good example. But with Arbogast the lower limits of sparseness are tested with a strained whisper from the beginning. The vocals are merely a rustic rustling in "To Forget" yet they manage to almost stand out in comparison to the minimal keyboard melodies and sparse percussion.

There are some pretty overt Nick Drake-isms in the melancholy wheezes of The Gunshy's grandpa voice, all folksy and sincere, but I can only make out a few of the lines, leaving me with only a guess as to the quality of lyricism lost in the garbled delivery. Son, if you're going to sing a song for me, at least take the marbles out of your mouth. I can't understand a damn word you're saying!

In the following and accompanying track of "To Forget" - "To Remember" - Arbogast adds a bit more pulp to the song, but for the inches gained in sonic density yards are sacrificed at the expense of the hackneyed lyrics: "Had it not been for the day that you came/I'd have cursed the blue skies/and all the lovers in their perfect disguise/for all the happiness they gave."

For as much as Arbogast's songs beg to be let in to that special place in a listener's heart - some sort of convoluted cross between Low and Hayden - they ultimately are just too thin to amount to much at all. The cello barely bleeds through on "The Ghost of an Alibi" and most of the guitar, the prominent instrument throughout the album, is muffled. When the instrumentation is pushed higher in the mix such as on "Always Right", Arbogast's asthmatic delivery is pretty much drown out all together and the song ends up as frustrating as the entire album.

Oh yeah, and for what it's worth, there's a hidden track on the CD, but it's not loud enough when this Sleep Recording does just that - puts you to sleep.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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