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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 1, “New Year’s Eve,” a soft-rock ballad with verses punctuated by a biting guitar riff. The song’s narrator explains that he can’t have the girl because the girl would rather be with a jerk. “He’s wearing red on New Year’s Eve/So confident that you won’t leave,” sings Mark Desierto. Later on, the jerk passes out on the girl, who ends up “wearing blue” on New Year’s Day.
MUSICAL MOTIVATION: “I found myself living in Nashville and wanted to give a shot at writing one of those earnest, wistful country ballads without making myself puke,” says Desierto, who has since moved to D.C. “And you can’t have a good country ballad without a proper beginning, middle, and end to the narrative. That’s why the song has about 38 verses.” He’s coy when asked how much of the song is based on real life: “None of our lyrics are completely fictional. We subscribe to the Dreamgirls model of storytelling—the characters in our songs are usually exaggerated versions of real people.”
BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS: Critics have used adjectives such as “clever,” “sarcastic,” and “sardonic” to describe the band, which includes New Yorkers Josh Arenberg (drums) and “Fat” Tony Melone (keyboards). By contrast, “New Year’s Eve” seems intentionally direct—it lacks a chorus, so the narrative is paramount. “That’s why that guitar lead is so prominent. Everything else in the song falls into place around or supports the lead motif,” Desierto says. “And really, who doesn’t have a soft spot for a rockin’ power riff? It’s a pretty sweet riff.”