Desaparecidos were a short-lived, blisteringly loud punk/indie rock band fronted by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes from 2001-2002. They released one album, Read Music/Speak Spanish (their Spanish name means "disappeared," a euphemism for the secret executions of political dissidents in Central/South American dictatorships--sometimes with CIA help!), and promptly broke up. Their songs were basically like Pinkerton-era Weezer reading you an issue of Adbusters, or Archers of Loaf doing Days of War, Nights of Love--only with Oberst's distinctive, divisively wavering voice. Maybe it's hard to imagine now, but in 2001/2002, with both the lingering protest culture of the WTO/G8/etc. actions and the stolen Bush election in the air, and the heightened, amber-alert nationalism that followed 9/11 taking over, this stuff seemed radical as all hell.
Or maybe, with Occupy Wall Street struggling to make some change in 2012, this is the perfect time for Desaparecidos to return.
Like any politically-inclined rock album (or any political art that's not totally didactic), Read Music/Speak Spanish doesn't present a comprehensive, coherent ideology or a bullet-proof action plan. Instead, it's a messy but heartfelt outburst--not unlike some May Day actions--and a first step towards some deeper discussions and radicalization. Like Adbusters or a lot of the anarchist theory trending with "the kids" at the time, Oberst's songs tended to focus a lot of ire on the consumer side of capitalism--why do we shop so much? Why do we want money and material things?--or at least as much as was dished out to the Disneys and Malls of America running the other side of things.
Part of this is just typical indie rock self-loathing: it's impossible to bring down a corporation, so instead you look inward and find fault with yourself. Part of it is the sort of magical anarchist thinking of the time that said you could make as much difference by changing yourself and your own life as by undertaking larger political battles. (There's also a weird little streak of emo misogyny to the gendered checkbook dynamics of the songs "Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)" and "Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods," but that's another post.)
So, no, it wasn't a 13-point program to destroy America (wink), but Desaparecidos pretty well reflected how a lot of punk and indie kids might have felt at the time: angry, confused, passionate for socio-political-economic change. Plus, you know, they fucking shred.