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Year In a Red Room

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Album Review

Oakland's Desa is basically the longstanding ska-punk band Link 80 minus saxophonist Steve Borth, but the group's sound is so demonstrably different that the name change makes perfect sense. It's not just the loss of the saxophone that's caused the last traces of ska (which had largely left Link 80's sound after the death of original lead singer Nick Traina) to evaporate from Desa's sound; there's a newfound deliberate quality to A Year in a Red Room, a slightly artsy kind of new wave coolness to songs like "Bermuda Triangle" that increases their emotional and visceral power. Remaking all of the songs from Desa's debut EP, Demonstrates Birth, in better-recorded, cleaner-sounding versions that show off Joey Busto's drumming to much better advantage, Desa has advanced its sound in new and appealing ways. The highlight is the remarkably poppy "Homicide at the Fountain of Youth," a speedy, nervy song that, like much of the rest of the album, recalls the skittish quality of early-'80s post-punk without sounding derivative.


Formed: 2002 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Coming at emo from the straight-edge post-hardcore direction, Oakland, CA's Desa has its roots in a long-running East Bay ska-punk band called Link 80. Forming in 1994, Link 80 released three albums with several different lineups based around the core of drummer Joey Bustos and trumpeter Aaron Nagel, the only members to remain with the group throughout its history. Following the release of Link 80's final album, 2000's The Struggle Continues, saxophonist Steve Borth left that band, and its remaining...
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Year In a Red Room, Desa
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