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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » 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.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » 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!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Sleep Station
After the War
Eyeball Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


February 14, 2000
Despite any claims the Bush administration has made, we are in a war. In fact, the current state feels more like war than the Kuwaiti "liberation" ever did, what with the senselessness, the confused heroism and the overwhelming politic that claims lives. Sleep Station's appropriately titled After the War makes a analogous statement - it is a brave concept album about wars past, deep feelings and stinging parallels that is truly more poignant and complex in retrospect.

Using as much recording and sound equipment as they could find from the World War II era, there is at once an air of authenticity; this sentiment is soon multiplied as we follow the entangled life stories of several soldiers, brought together and separated by the inevitability of battle.

After the War is as bravely grand in scale as it is passionately intimate; it succeeds from both perspectives.

The sound of the album is of great contrast to its initiative. It blends self-described "70s AM gold" with such deep themes, and is at first perplexing, but entirely effective. The title track is downright friendly sounding, hook-filled like a reduction of "Mr. Bojangles", and easily as retro radio-friendly.

"Caroline, London 1940" is unashamed of its pop rock roots, swelling happily despite the homesick lyrics and sighing backdrop. It nearly collapses in places, but continually picks itself up - a sly nod to the continual efforts of the trying troops. The disparity definitely raises an eyebrow, but places them squarely between genius contemporaries like The Decemberists or Neutral Milk Hotel in that regard. You may never have thought that singing about these subject matters would come off in such a carefree manner, but this is an affair driven by passion.

"Waiting" is our first taste at the crushing, disillusioned strain hiding within the subtext, a heartbroken ballad with a wallowing country guitar and the sincerity of David Debiak's bell-clear vocals. If taken out of the framework of the album, the track could pass as a cheesy 70s number and be just as enjoyable, but in After the War, it lacks sarcasm. There is something very pure and innocent about these tracks, and it works well with the sympathy we feel through narration.

Songs roll on in similar fashion, lazily tossing about poppy throwbacks amid dusty period recreations and painful story arcs. The sublime intricacy of the album is constantly pitted against the ease and relatively benign temper of the songs themselves.

It is a truly smart album; it plays on its own dynamic, and tugs emotionally at every juncture. When the tattered hymn of "All that Remains" gives a solemn salute to all things lost, it bruises all the more in contrast to its carefree surroundings. The final note of "Goodbye to the Moon" could not be better played, a hopeful yet spare ballad that is as much about death as fulfillment, it's difficult to hold back a tearů and how many AM Gold tracks can accomplish such a feat? Clearly, it shows its magnitude as a whole, and humbly outshines many others in the process.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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