Music, Print, Reviews April 13, 2015

New Music Monday: Desaparecidos — City on the Hill

by Clark Lamson


Love him or hate him (because it’s more than likely one of the two) Conor Oberst is one of his generation’s most eminent singer/songwriter, not to mention prolific. Most commonly known as the one man/band folk rock act Bright Eyes, his side projects include Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, and Desaparecidos. The latter is a punk-rock band. As a fan of his works, I was a little surprised (and embarrassed) to find an Oberst project I hadn’t heard of. When the guy who turned me on to Bright Eyes told me about the single, I knew what I’d be writing about this week.

Desaparecidos, which translates to “dissapeared,” released their first EP The Happiest Place on Earth in 2001, and followed it up with Read Music/Speak Spanish, the band’s first and last full length release. Due to time conflicts with the Bright Eyes project, Oberst had to walk away. In 2012, the band reunited, went on a small summer tour, and began a trickling release of new singles going until August of 2013. Totaling in 6 songs, topics range from Arizona’s sordid immigration legislation, the infamous hacker group Anonymous, and the Occupy movement. This topics are wide, but equally potent. Now, the band has treated us with a new single, and an album announcement. The track is “City on the Hill,” from the upcoming album Payola.

The band’s earlier work took the natural political inclinations of Bright Eyes, cranked them to 11, and layed them on top of a squelching post-hardcore groove. The newer tracks have all had a brighter, slightly clearer sound, but none more so than “City on the Hill.” The squelching 6-strings and fuzzed-out choruses bring Desaparecidos to newly anthemic heights. Though most are used to the stifled croon of Bright Eyes, Oberst tops even the clear-throated melodies of Mystic Valley Band to a howl. Though he doesn’t often go for it, Oberst has a sturdy scream. It reminded me of the stamina he has a vocalist.

Payloa clocks in at 14-tracks, making it an even split between new and previously-released material. If you’re lucky, you’re like me, and discovered 7 new songs by an artist you love this week. At the worst, let’s hope you at least discovered one. Take a listen to “City on the Hill” below, thanks to the Epitaph Records Youtube, and check out the other tracks over at Desparecidos’ Youtube. Payola will be released June 23rd via Epitaph.

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