It’s been 10 years since Desaparecidos released any new music, but if the band’s new 7” single MariKKKopa/Backsell is any indicator, they haven’t missed a beat. This fiery two track release is a sign of good things to come for fans of the “disappeared ones,” a Spanish term for people who are secretly abducted or imprisoned against their will, from which the band draws their name. Fronted by legendary singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, this Omaha-based post-hardcore band is back with a vengeance, railing against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio, well-known for his harsh treatment of immigrants and local inmates, is currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for racial discrimination.
Oberst wastes no time firing the first salvo. On the first line of the A-side track “MariKKKopa,” Oberst proclaims: “There’s a lynching at Home Depot of the last day laborer.” Oberst’s tone remains both seething and satirical throughout “MariKKKopa,” with most of the track’s lyrics sung in a patronizing manner from the faux-perspective of Sheriff Joe and the like-minded. The track reflects the sentiments of Maricopians that feel that immigrants are hurting their city and “something” needs to be done. The sample at the end of “MariKKKopa” is Sheriff Joe being interviewed. He claims he’s alright with being compared to the KKK (hence the track’s title), saying it’s an “honor” and means “he’s doing something.” The distorted guitar riffs crunch and heavy bass permeates the noisy track. Oberst gives it all he’s got, and screams the final words of the song: “They’ll never learn until Maricopa burns!” At only 2:44 minutes long, “MariKKKopa” feels like a classic punk A-side single: short, loud, and mean.
If “MariKKKopa” is an indictment of Sheriff Joe and his ilk, then the B-side track “Backsell” is surely an indictment of the recording industry. Calling out Capitol and Interscope by name, Oberst pulls no punches. “Backsell” sounds like it could have easily come from Desaparecidos’s 2002 album Read Music Speak Spanish and not much like your run-of-the-mill B-side. After 10 years with no new material, one would imagine Desaparecidos do have some things to get off their chest. “Backsell” has sharp hooks and nice builds to the choruses, and like anything Conor Oberst gets near, great vocals and lyrics. In reference to being pursued by labels, Oberst quips, “Their cash cow killed himself so they’re looking for the next one.”
Despite being a two track single clocking in at just over six minutes combined, MariKKKopa/Backsell says a lot, the obvious messages about the evils of Sheriff Joe and the record companies aside. This 7” speaks volumes about Desaparecidos themselves. They still have a fire in their belly, they can still write good music, and, most importantly, they’re back!
A direct download of MariKKKopa/Backsell is available through the band’s website. Pre-orders for a physical copy of the 7” went on sale August 2nd and quickly sold out. More copies will be available after pre-orders ship, sometime this month. An exclusive stream of “MariKKKopa” and an interview with Conor Oberst about the new material is available at Huffington Post.