Tag Archives: Desaparecidos

The Essential Conor Oberst

October 15, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Conor Oberst, since age 13, has released one of the strongest catalogs in modern American music. His unmistakable voice and penetrating lyrics stand front and center, whether under his own name; the adolescent, yet strangely adult Commander Venus; the defining work of Bright Eyes; the all star Monsters of Folk; or the topical rock of Desaparecidos.

Do You Feel At Home – The title track from Commander Venus’s 1994 debut presents many Oberst signatures: wise-beyond-years lyrics; a controlled, yet shaky delivery; catharsis; and hooks that set the singer-songwriter apart.

Touch – Bright Eyes’ Jan. 1998 debut A Collection of Songs presented the lo-fi blueprint of the confessional songwriting to come, yet their September release, Letting Off the Happiness, is where the magic happened. “Touch” blends the manic vocals of Oberst’s acoustic songs without acoustic: blitzed out drums and “broken” keyboards make “Touch” an amazingly honest, fractured gem.

Something Vague – 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors solidifies the eclectic instrumentation of modern Bright Eyes. “Something Vague” perfectly expresses the confusion and passing of adolescence to early independent adulthood.

You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? – 2002’s Lifted is the album that placed Oberst in the national spotlight, with ambition bursting from everywhere. “You Will …,” is a simple message and melody that not only sticks in one’s head but practically signs a lease on the place.

Poison Oak – Bright Eyes most popular album, 2005’s I’m Wide Awake it’s Morning, is a classic. “Lua” and “First Day of My Life” are Oberst staples; however, his work is rarely more personal than on “Poison Oak.” The humanity and pure emotion Oberst displays across this track is staggering.

Easy/Lucky/Free Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, also released in 2005, explored Oberst’s electronic inclinations. Digital Ash brought a new sheen and darkness to Bright Eyes’ take on electro rock. “Easy/ Lucky/ Free” closes this underrated collection with a meditation on an apocalyptic mortality.

Cape Canaveral– Oberst returned to the stripped down leanings of earlier releases for his 2008 self-titled solo album. Weaving vivid imagery and mysticism, Oberst achieves a new sense of universality on “Cape Canaveral.” Using acoustic guitar as accompaniment, Oberst wisely sings: “Victory’s sweet even deep in the cheap seats.”

Time Forgot – Oberst entered the major label world in 2014 with the well-polished Upside Down Mountain. “Time Forgot” presents us with a familiar Oberst landscape, though with a new sense that with fight and dedication, the tunnel may just have some light.

City on the Hill – Desaparecidos have become one of America’s more relevant rock bands. Despite a 13-year gap between their debut and the 2015 release Payola, Denver Dalley, Matt Baum, Landon Hedges, Ian McElroy, and Oberst have only gained strength. “City on The Hill” exhibits one of the strongest-ever Oberst vocals as he joins the body count of a nation needing, hoping, and fighting for something more.

Oberst will headline the Holland Stages Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17. The free, all-day event celebrates the 10th anniversary of Omaha Performing Arts and the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St., and will be held on five stages inside and outside the building.

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Denver Dalley

December 3, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

 

Denver Dalley. There’s a certain ring to the name. It has a superhero’s alliteration, reminding one of a Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, or Clark Kent. Of course, Dalley, 33, is  a musician, not the planet’s last ray of hope. But his songwriting ability may have been bestowed upon him as serendipitously as a bite from a radioactive spider, exposure to a gamma bomb, or relocation to a different solar system. For Dalley, it was a case of cat scratch fever.

The progenitor of the oft-political, post-punk revivalist band, Desaparecidos, which suspiciously sounds itself like a superhero faction (let’s not forget who fronts it), recently disclosed this alleged origin story from San Francisco International Airport. Or maybe Dalley was discussing nothing more than the brief stint he had in modeling almost 15 years ago.

“I remember one shoot I had with a couple of other guys,” Dalley confesses, describing an artsy New York session where each model was to hold a taxidermied animal. “They were legit Abercrombie models,” Dalley demurs. “I was just some dude from Omaha.”

As the story goes, Dalley says he somehow ended up with a live cat, as opposed to a stuffed animal, and was clawed every time the camera flashed. His modeling career ended shortly thereafter.

“I never really wanted to be a model,” he explains. “I just wanted to play music, so I did that. I went back to Omaha and started Desaparecidos.”

Okay, perhaps a cat scratch is too much of a reach. Unless, that is, the feline had been discovered bathing in the waters of the Pripyat River just outside of Chernobyl. Besides, the tunes of Statistics and Intramural, two of Dalley’s other projects, obviously come from a disciplined songwriter who must’ve developed a strong work ethic at an early age.

Forget the cat. Perhaps he was engineered in a lab.

Dalley says he worked for his father, a former professor of anatomy at Creighton University, filing slides and moving lab equipment to fund guitars, pedals, and amps.

“They were working on new x-ray technology,” the test subject mentions of one particularly odd job. “So I basically had to lay on this table while this machine scanned my entire body.”

A simpler explanation as to why Dalley’s been a working musician for well over a decade might be rooted in his early obsession with the mop-topped movies, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!

Or it could have been his early taste in music:

“The first two cassettes I bought with my own money were Paula Abdul and R.E.M.’s Green,” he says, laughing. “I’m still like that. I still do enjoy that sort of thing, but I went more in the direction of R.E.M.”

Whatever the case may be, Dalley is here to stay. And Desaparecidos, who disappeared in 2002, will reemerge next year with their second full-length album.

“People who enjoyed the first album won’t be disappointed,” Dalley says. “If anything, it’s louder and a little tougher, but it’s still very much our style.”

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