Desaparecidos is an American indie/punk rock side project headed by singer/guitarist Conor Oberst, the frontman of the indie band Bright Eyes. They have also been hailed as the "Saddle Creek supergroup". Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, Desaparecidos' lyrics are political in nature, and are about the state of affairs in America. That's the big picture; overall, the album painted little portraits of post-millennium America, focusing on economics. The songs had to do with money and what people will do to get it, be it huge debt (Man and Wife, the Former) or an alienated marriage and lives ripped apart by the need to follow the dollar at any cost (Man and Wife, the Latter). Greater Omaha is a look at the homogenization of America through cookie-cutter tract developments and the allure of the SUV. Oberst's voice cracks in rage as he sings these songs. The first track, Man And Wife, the Former, has voice tracks from women at a community college telling the interviewer what they look for in a husband. Money is often mentioned.
The band has been both lauded and criticized for its intentionally raw sound following the release of Read Music/Speak Spanish. In sharp contrast to Bright Eyes' confessional, even sometimes mournful vocals, Conor Oberst's vocals in Desaparecidos' songs were much more characteristic of punk rock. Though his wavery voice was still present, he snarled in "Happiest Place On Earth" that "there's not enough to fatten the cows and feed all of us. It's just a rationing of luck." In "Mañana", he shouted, "We will spread, we will cover the earth / Like air and water / ...If we're stopped, we'll just start again." The focus of the album- that today's bigger/better/best society is never satiated- is neatly summed up by "Greater Omaha", in which Oberst mused, "One more mouthful, and they will be happy then."
"Desaparecidos" means literally "the ones who disappeared" in Spanish, and is a reference to people who were arrested by various South American military governments and then vanished without a trace. From 1976 to 1983 in Argentina, for example, thousands of dissidents vanished without a trace under Dirty War driven by the military junta that was in power.
The band broke up in 2003. Rumors state Oberst believed the band was getting huge, especially after getting attention from the Jimmy Eat World tour and being featured on an MTV You Hear it First piece. Oberst continued to record with Bright Eyes, while the other members of Desaparecidos went on to form other projects. Matt Baum was in The '89 Cubs, but now currently drums for Race for Titles; Denver Dalley is in Statistics and Intramural; and Landon Hedges is currently in Little Brazil.