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June 22, 2004

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Well, geez...At least one band recognizes it's about time for a post-punk revivalist, anthem-cluttered debut.

And the crowd yells: "Bring back the Fugazi-glory days, with a touch of Beatles-like anthem for us!"

And someone has answered. "They have come! What will you do about it?"

Most would wager the term 'independent-music' (or indie for short) is often used loosely, but denotes a band unique in style and persona, yet true to whatever genre they're building. If this is still a true statement, consider Despistado one of those on the right track.

Listening to the Emergency Response EP, I tell myself this is not deja-vu. I think, "I know these guys, I liked guys like this...or maybe I just heard this on the radio". So few times, however, do I catch my breath adapting to the reinvention of the quirky-guitar bravado or the as-of-late newborn politically-aware vocals, so cluttered with heavy meanings.

Despistado formed in 2001 in the coldest of Canadian regions- Regina, Saskatchewan. Their debut EP, the Emergency Response, forms the oddest hypothesis about them. And it's not due to the fact that they have released an impressive true punk-esque EP in the spirit of anti-relenting.....But, Despistado are certainly not jaded, despite what some may say about their resuscitation of music so often thrown under the bed - to be used only when everything has gone wrong.

Despistado have riddled the post-punk/rock-fusion with new meaning. Hand-clapping parts, throaty scream-alongs, words that make you think...and the infamous jumping percussive flow (always heard with a pair of low-top Converse-chucks). The fuel I needed in my stereo to bring my pulse in sync with an engine has been revved up again.

Those familiar with the Ian MacKaye-fronted Fugazi or the now-broken-up Refused, could compare Despistado loosely with those bands. Not a very off-base comparison in my opinion. The break down: Opening riff that wails loosely, over-driven and distorted? Check. Singing- inventively anti-stereo-typical and a rhythm-section that rolls from place to place? Check. Raucous vocals that chime in eager floats of quasi-political and social matter, searing with (for example) "...that's very anti-patriotic of you." (lyrics by singer/guitarist Dargan Harding)? Check! Well, then we've got the right antidote to the question of independent music don't we?

Sure do.

Despistado were signed to Jade Tree records in 2002, and since then the band has slowly stirred more talk. It's no surprise that their infectious side-stepping trademarks lend them all the right responses and energetic participation-repertoire, and have prominently given them a heedful record to move to, whether you fancy yourself as more a Ska than Punk or vise-versa.

Credits will, in-time, be given to Leif Thorseth's back-bending guitars, Joel Passmore's infectious bass-riffs (my favorite opening bass line starts with Despistado's "A Starstick's Prediction"), Brenan Schwartz's energetic, percussion backing - passionately finding middle-ground between simple and intense - and finally, Dargan Harding's guitar and vocals that involve being zealously in-tune with a Bob Marley-rock-group side of things while staying leniently post-revolution-happy at the same time.

Unquestionably, the Emergency Response has something audacious and high-spirited for the unmixed-matched, seasoning-pool of ska-troglodytes (bad conjunction, I know), and London brass-tuners for the aesthetically politically oppressed. In fact, while this release comes off as a superceding independent punk release in Jade Tree record's recent signings, it's a given that this indie-band has recognized that it's about time to rejuvenate the shadows of post-punk's 2004 hotfires, and hang on as heavy as an important group could ever wish to, all the while remaining influential and transcendental concert-stage-rockers in your CD collection.

Hybrid Magazine

Adrian Rose