Desaparecidos might sound like a Latin alternative band concerned about the disappearance of innocent citizens by some repressive South American regime, but this aggressive rock and roll outfit hails from Lincoln, Nebraska. And these Nebraskans are pissed about the disappearance of the American landscape beneath mammoth chain restaurants and stores, about the substitution of shopping for individuality. "It's sad to watch mom-and-pop stores get replaced by corporate chain stores," says guitarist/songwriter Denver Dalley, who founded Desaparecidos with Conor Oberst, acclaimed frontman of the kinder, gentler pop group Bright Eyes. "There are many more examples [of the ills of consumer society]," Dalley continues over the phone. "It's a very confusing situation that I think about a lot. It can be very angering at times."
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Desaparecidos' debut, Read Music/Speak Spanish, sure sounds angry. A merciless assault, the thrashing sounds like Dinosaur Jr. on steroids. Taking a break from Bright Eyes' quiet introspection, Oberst sings at the top of his voice, seemingly quaking on the verge of tears. Dalley's guitar heightens the tension with squeals and high-pitched roars. On "Hole in One," the album's closing track, the guitar drives like a siren while Oberst spits, "You can buy my records down at the corporate chain/I tell myself I shouldn't be ashamed" -- he screams -- "but I am!!!"
The energy of the album burst out during a weeklong recording session at Presto! Recording Studio in Lincoln. Friends since elementary school, Dalley and Oberst had talked about collaborating musically for a long time. "Finally last winter we all got together and it just clicked," says Dalley -- "we all" including Bright Eyes members Ian McElroy on keyboards and Matt Baum on drums, as well as the Good Life's Landon Hedges on bass. "I couldn't be prouder or more excited to be working with such talented musicians and great friends," offers Dalley.
But friendship doesn't temper the group's rage, which should make for a relentless live show. Indeed Dalley warns their performances get wilder as the band members grow more familiar with the songs, allowing them to concentrate on body slamming rather than musicianship. Dalley hopes the violent performance will not simply entertain but also bring the audience some awareness of the poisons of consumerism. "Sometimes I feel like a lot of individual characteristics are lost in the interest of satisfying the masses," he worries. "It's not an attack on people who live in these areas -- I'm one of them -- but I guess you have to question your surroundings from time to time."
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