Desario's new songs are shorter, louder, faster
Sacramento's Desario stops noodling around to create a catchier pop-rock sound
There’s something exciting in finding out your album has been considered one of the year’s best by a respected music magazine.
That’s precisely what happened to local pop band Desario in 2012, when the music magazine The Big Takeover not only gave the band’s sophomore release Mixer a rave review, but also named it one of its top 30 albums of the year. The list included also included acts such as Ken Stringfellow, Guided by Voices and the Wedding Present, the latter a band particularly loved by several members of Desario.
“It was great, especially considering the company,” said singer-guitarist John Conley.
Certainly, Desario was worthy of its spot. Mixer is an atmospheric indie-rock album with lush dueling guitar work and ’80s drum grooves in the vein of the Jesus and Mary Chain. The songs exude a laid-back sound, in no rush to finish, but instead dwelling in gorgeous swells and repetitive post-punk riffs. Throughout, Conley sings softly along, accenting the guitar work, rather than singing on top of it.
Not all reviewers were as kind to Desario, however. While most were generally positive, some offered criticism, namely that the songs were on the long side.
The members of Desario didn’t disagree—the average length of a song on Mixer, after all, clocked in around five minutes.
“I recorded that record, and after listening to it so many times, as we were wrapping it up, I felt the same way,” said guitarist Mike Yoas. “I love these songs … but they tend to go on, and they go to a lot of different places. As a band, it’s just where we were.”
And so the members of Desario thought long and hard about that feedback as they started writing new material.
The band’s new batch of material, which the band has yet to record, consists of songs that are shorter, leaner and more focused than previous efforts. This change wasn’t entirely the result of critics, however: The addition of Kirk Cox, the band’s new drummer, also prompted the shift.
“[Cox] comes from a different background. He grew up playing hardcore, [and] he was in power-pop bands,” Conley said. “He definitely comes from a more aggressive music background.”
The band’s songwriting process has also changed. Until recently, all material was written together at band practices or in jam sessions. Post Mixer, however, the process has changed. Now members bring in completed or partially written songs.
“[Before, songwriting] was literally somebody noodling around with, whether it be a drum riff, a guitar riff or whatever, and we’d be like, ’Hey, keep playing that,’” Yoas said.
As it turned out, this new approach meant more material.
So far, Desario has written 15 tracks—too many for one album. The plan now, Conley said, is to save a few for future projects.
“We’d like to do two releases—maybe two shorter full-lengths, or maybe an EP and an album,” he said. “We’re going to track everything and see how the songs fit together. The songs will tell us how they want to be released.”
Such writing, as it turns out, also lends itself to songs that have a light, easy jam feel—like those on Desario’s first two albums.
With the band’s new tracks, however, more thoughtful tinkering means more structure with songs that rely less on texture and more on chord changes.
Still, the sonic changes are by no means dramatic.
“I think … we were ready for a change, not a major change, not a calculated change,” Yoas said. “We like to do something different all the time, without totally going off the map.”