DOWNLOAD: "Greater Omaha"
SHOW: Tuesday at Webster Hall ($25)
You may know Conor Oberst from his indie folk project Bright Eyes, but one lesser known part of his past is coming back. His punk band Desaparecidos lived up to its name, disappearing after one album in 2002 thanks in part to the suddenly soaring success of Oberst's other projects. Now, 11 years after its release Read Music Speak Spanish has become something of a cult classic, and Desaparecidos are touring and releasing new music again.
The band's return could just as easily double as one giant "we told you so." Since Read Music Speak Spanish was released, wars raged on in the United States. The economy increasingly faltered. Rising disillusionment with the American Dream became larger and larger part of the national discussion - especially during the last election cycle. Each seem conditions of the immediate era, but each was somehow addressed, forseen, or warned against in Oberst's glorious, evocative howl all the way back in 2002.
Ten years later, Desaparecidos return to a country most agree is as divided as its ever been, a place where deep disagreement and impassioned protest surround seemingly every issue of consequence (and several issues that don't matter at all). The setting is as ripe for Desaparecidos as kerosene is for fire, and to their credit the band doesn't sound a day removed from when they went on hiatus. There's "Anonymous" and "The Left Is Right" from the band's latest 7," both of which could serve as rallying cries for the Occupy movement. The band has also released "Backsell," a crusade against the corporate music industry, and "MariKKKopa," a diss track of sorts for an Arizona sheriff with a particularly hard stance on immigration. The band's distinctive fuzzed-out muscle remains apt setting for Oberst's unhinged voice - not just in how the sounds blend together but in what Oberst is saying.It's confrontational, outspoken and raw. In short: It's punk in an era that really, really needs punk.
Made before "99%" represented anything other than a ratio, Read Music Speak Spanish could just as easily serve as the manifesto for today's protesting generation. It's easy to wonder how big Desaparecidos' catalog would be by now had they stuck together. But for now, it's probably best to be thankful that they didn't disappear after all.
Download "Greater Omaha" from Desaparecidos' Read Music Speak Spanish above, and watch a video of the band performing their new song "MariKKKopa" below. Desaparecidos play Webster Hall Tuesday night.