Desaparecidos, “Payola”


One of the best albums Conor Oberst has ever made was Desaparecidos’s Read Music/Speak Spanish. Released in 2002 and sandwiched between Bright Eyes’s two magnum opuses—Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground—it was a politically charged, emotionally fraught post-punk record that served as a heavy indictment of American capitalism and corporate government. Thirteen years later, the system is just as fucked: banks and corporations continue to bleed ordinary people dry, bankers are receiving bonuses instead of jail time, and cops are, quite literally, getting away with murder. Payola, the band’s long-awaited follow-up, won’t change any of that on its own, but from the brutally honest history lesson of “City On the Hill” (“All the founding fathers sowed their seeds into servant girls,” snarls Oberst) to the way “Slacktivist” calls out the armchair activism of millennials, it’s an important call to arms that needs to be heard and acted upon.


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