Whole Bolivian Army
"War Stories"

(Gargantuan Records 2003)Whole Bolivian Army - War Stories

On "War Stories," The Whole Bolivian Army creates political music as though they have been doing it for years even though they claim otherwise. With their fifth full-length album, The Army addresses mainly war-related issues (hence the album title) such as assuming the point of view of Japanese, South Koreans and American war veterans in addition to making statements on landmines. And they do all this as a female-fronted rock 'n' roll band.

Lyrically, The Whole Bolivian Army has a lot to say and they make their messages clear with segmented ideas and repetition. With up-tempo songs like "Okinawa," the serious and moving "Shellshock," and "Kwangju," the band assumes the identities of a Japanese woman, a US veteran and a South Korean, respectively. "Okinawa" grabs your attention with a list of things the character in the song won't do: beg, bend, buy American, blink, bleed, buy American, et cetera while in "Kwangju," the lyrics "they had bayonets" sticks in your head. The up tempo rock of "Blowback" steals your attention with lyrics like "people you don't know/bomb people you don't know/it feels so good/intuition? Institution?/Bible thump'n, Limbaugh hump'n/it feels so good."

With a Rutles-esque title, "Ack!" stands out with cool instrumentation while "The End of Chivalry" is a, primarily, acoustic guitar and vocals song that is executed well to create a slow and pretty sound while the simple sliding guitar part of "Red" adds a lot to the song. Ending the album, The Whole Bolivian Army offer a song with audience participation on "United Fruit Co." as each word of the title is "cheered" in the chorus while the mid-tempo "Credo" tries to assure each listener they're more than just apart of a religion, "more than a pawn," "more than a human bomb," among others.

In the end, some of the tunes are almost danceable and you can't help but feel guilty dancing to a song like "Shellshock." Certain songs really stay with you, mostly due to the lyrics. For the politically active or interested, The Whole Bolivian Army offers their political opinions for conversation, without feeling as though they have been forced upon you, and created a decent album from it at the same time.