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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
The Gunshy
There's No Love in this War
Latest Flame

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

December 11, 2007
From 1943 through 1945 one Paul Arbogast was fighting the good fight, in what history simply calls the Second World War. During his time at war Arbogast wrote seventeen letters to the girl he had met, during the year prior to departing for the front, at the Ukranian Club in his Pennsylvania hometown of Allentown PA. Upon his return to the United States after the war Arbogast sought out that girl, Julia, and eventually made her his wife. Paul and Julia's marriage was not a long one, however, as Arbogast died at the age of 39 of a heart attack brought on by complications from shrapnel lodged in his chest from wartime wounds. Yet before his death the pair had a child, Mark, who in turn begat Matt Arbogast, the grandson of Paul and the mind currently disguising itself behind a flying-under-the-radar Chicago band known as The Gunshy. Still with the plot?

There's No Love in this War, released earlier this fall, is an ambitious attempt to set those seventeen wartime posts to music. Arbogast has taken some lyrical freedom, but the essence of each correspondence is intact, and even the song titles are comprised simply of dates and headings from the letters. From the lead-in track "May 14 1943, The Khaki-Whacky Girls," the lyrics read: "Fort McClellan has a mighty haze/ In the early days of May/ Almost makes you forget what it meant/ To awake on a Saturday/ Today I dreamt of Mama's biscuits/ The boys beating up the yard." And so it goes, the album reading like an old diary stumbled upon in a dusty and neglected attic.

Another thing about There's No Love in this War is obvious from the first seconds of play, namely that the gun shy Arbogast sounds uncannily like the esteemed Tom Waits. The fact that his songs are elegiac incarnations of actual wartime letters only solidifies their linkage; Waits is as renowned for his deadpan observatory poetry, as he is for his voice. Arbogast's equally gravelly cords are perfectly suited for the subject matter; it almost feels like Paul Arbogast himself is reciting these lyrics from the cold, damp trenches of Europe.

Musically, There's No Love in this War does an admirable job of complementing the meticulous and ambitous topics in each track. The full Gunshy band consists of several players, and a myriad of instruments: banjo, piano, organ, violin, trumpet, trombone and melodica all freely flow with the standard issue guitar, bass and drums. To boot, the album's style revolves around marching band blues, which only adds to the military theme. The highlight is undoubtedly the title track, a dulcet ditty that unwittingly belies its very subject, "That's on a highway/ On a sunny day/ With no one in your way/ Oh, we'll know this is passed/ When at last on a road/ We travel with no packs/ On our backs/ Stop to get a drink/ Or see a show/ There's no love in this war."

Clearly personal, There's No Love in this War ends up confirming the universality of human emotion - both through the ages and during trying times. The musical letters are like bits of timeless evidence, people resorting to their own comforting notions, no matter how imagined they may be, to get through the slough. It's eventually an uplifting process, and one that has relevancy in these times of war, though sixty years later it is a process that often fosters a sterile sentimentality that can't exist in the present. There's No Love in this War is not making any grand statements, but rather it is just a human face, a snapshot of one life, in a world gone terribly awry. That Paul Arbogast and his letters survived the hell has led to quite the homage, two generations on.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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