by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
You read all the reviews yesterday, buy the album today. Desaparecidos’ Payola drops via Epitaph and is available at all the usual locations and online at iTunes, Amazon and on Spotify, where I’m currently listening to it. Bombastic? Yes.
Desa’s album, as you already know, is a social and political comment. Conor Oberst raging against the machine as only he can. He does as good a job as I suppose anyone could simplifying some of the most challenging issues of our time in less than three minutes per topic. Any more than three minutes would be overkill, both for these topics and these melodies. Because, let’s face it, all the best punk songs are less than three minutes long, right? Anyone following the band has already heard the best tracks (since they were released as singles over the past few years). Taken as a whole, the record is a solid collection of fist-pumping anthems, whether you understand what the songs are about or not.
On the other hand, Digital Leather’s All Faded, out today via FDH Records, is purely personal, as all Digital Leather records are. Do we really want to hear what frontman Shawn Foree thinks about immigration reform, social media or problems in the Middle East? No, we don’t (and I’m sure there’s some of you who don’t want to know what Conor thinks about those issues, either).
My thoughts on the record and the story behind the making of the album are online here. Quite simply, this is the best Digital Leather record since Warm Brother. All Faded is available as a download or CD from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. The vinyl version doesn’t come out until this fall, but you can order it now from the label right here.
Sonically and lyrically, these two records couldn’t be more different, and yet they have one thing in common: You can understand every word of every lyric sung on both records.
It seems like a little thing — like a basic thing — but the majority of indie rock records these days sport vocals that are nothing more than indecipherable nuanced tone poems. To a lot of music fans, the words don’t matter, and that’s fine. They’re in it for the energy or the noise or the attitude, or in the case of “vibe” music or next-gen shoegaze, it’s all about the mood, the chord progressions, the drone. Fine.
But I’m at the point where if I can’t understand what the singer’s singing I blank out on the song. Maybe it’s a throwback attitude, or the fact that I grew up on songs that forced you to sing along. These days, there’s not much on Sirius XM (the only “radio” station I listen to that plays new music) that’s begs you to join in. Both of these records do. Go buy them.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.