Desaparecidos, "Payola" (Epitaph)

"Read Music/Speak Spanish," the Desaparecidos' debut, came out in 2002. Conor Oberst had taken a break from Bright Eyes to join friends from Omaha to play loud, pointed punk rock, and the record seethed with Bush-era political venom. The band soon went on hiatus to let Oberst focus on other projects, until a reunion show a few years ago led to some topical new singles. "Payola," the second Desaparecidos full-length, rocks, rants and roars. "Payola" rails against racism ("MariKKKopa"), questions invasions of privacy in the name of national security ("Search the Searches"), endorses the hacker group Anonymous and encourages meaningful activism ("Radicalized," "Slacktivist"). Like the lyrics, the riffs are blunter and sharper this time, which makes the songs all the better as shout-along anthems. Oberst shreds his vocal cords screaming; the guitars crash, crackling with feedback; and the songs recklessly hurtle forward. It's a thrilling, provocative ride.

Steve Klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer

streaming video

On Monday, the day it was posted, Pentatonix's "Evolution of Michael Jackson" had more than 8 million views. The imaginative a cappella medley benefits because the quintet has three singers with high voices.