Monthly Music Roundup | May 2020

Hi! How are you doing? Are you being kind to yourself? Are you giving yourself a break? This thing we’re all going through, it’s pretty tough, and none of us really know what will come of it. Thankfully, we have music to serve not just as a comfort throughout these troubled times but also as a document of a specific time and place in history; it is, of course, the direct result of a person saying “this is how I am feeling, and I will rearrange the air around me to try to paint a vivid picture of it”.

So we’ve once again assembled a list of some of our favorite releases from the last month or so. Go over them, listen to them, read about them, and dig into their respective artists and releases. This is the soundtrack to this extremely strange era. This is our story.

Remember: we do this every month, so click here if you want to check out our selections from past months. You really should, because they’re really good.

Los Cronicos – “Algo Único”

Los Cronicos have been a fixture in the Buenos Aires music scene since the early 2000’s with their brand of power pop being a driving force in their previous releases, 2008’s Ahora Estamos Tan Separados and 2015’s  Caleidoscopio. Now we’re seeing a shift with their latest single “Algo Único” paying homage to early 80’s jangle pop with elements of garage. The song itself is infectiously catchy, with memorable guitar hooks paving the way for Carlos Garassino’s nostalgia laden vocals, the chugging bass accompanied by synth and keyboard blending seamlessly with tight drums which provide this track with a warm, full feeling without being overwhelming. The new single will be featured on their soon to be released album of the same name which was recorded through the legendary DDR Recordings.   

La Fuerza Robada – “La Respuesta Que Nunca Llega”

La Fuerza Robada, solo project from musician Jay Averbuj, is an interesting marriage of jangly indie-rock structures with a soft emo-ish edge to the melodies. “La Respuesta Que Nunca Llega,” the first single off his upcoming album Incendio Privado, greets the listener with a steadfast drumbeat and sparse cascading guitar arpeggios that are further emphasized once the song kicks into a higher gear. There’s something melancholic about the vocals, especially as you notice the slight overdubs thrown in the background and the emo / math rock-y influences shine through when some rhythmic counterpoints accompany the chorus as Jay sings “no querés saber las cosas que pasaban lejos de vos“. La Fuerza Robada seems to bridge the gap between the more visceral and heartfelt roots of emo and dream pop by smoothing it over with washy reverb and some angular math-inspired guitar passages. The full album is one of our most anticipated releases of 2020.

Hilos – “Ojos Cristal”

“Indie folk” is a genre that can often sound too twee, too precious, too dusted-petal delicate for its own good; when done wrong, it sounds like a group of artists trying their best to score a precocious early-2000s indie comedy. When an artist takes a stab at the genre that makes it feel expansive, immersive, and grand, it makes you realize all the potential in that aesthetic. “Ojos Cristal” by indie-folk group Hilos is a fantastic example of this, a beautiful (and very skillfully produced) song that serves as an awestruck paean to nature and our collective place in it.  

Chris Limbs ft. w.a.n.t.o.n – “Knockdown”

Chris Limbs is part of the Buenos Aires-based indie-pop group Fervors, a band that excels at marrying the cerebral and the emotional. “Knockdown,” the first single from his upcoming solo album, continues down that artistic path, bringing it closer to a chilled-out r&b aesthetic. His Fervors collaborator w.a.n.t.o.n. joins him along for this plaintively seductive track, which borrows elements of synthwave to navigate the nuances of an emotionally complicated relationship, the sheer impact of it, and reeling from the aftershock.

Pablo di Nardo – “Mas Mani”

Pablo di Nardo, member of indie-rock stalwarts Mi Amigo Invencible, just released this breezy solo offering; a beautifully laid-back little folk tune with sparse percussion and skillfully plucked guitar chords as its backbone, recalling artists such as Sam Amidon and Cass McCombs. It’s a breath of fresh air, and a beautiful little tune in its own right, creating a dreamy, hazy atmosphere that feels like walking around a park after developing a nice buzz from a bottle of wine. We could all use a little “más maní”.

Dolores Cobach – “Close to You”

Let’s talk about covers. Include them in a live show, and you’re offering a mid-set sonic biscuit to the audience, a momentary bit of bonding that makes the performance that much more memorable. But actually recording a cover is high-stakes business, especially when a song is considered canon for a beloved artist. Luckily the risk pays off handily for local folk singer/songwriter and session musician Dolores Cobach, who takes the song (a leading single off the Carpenters album of the same name) into r&b territory, complete with crooning vocals, Rhodes piano, and a strangely perfect slide guitar solo. Dare we even say we enjoy it more than the original? We dare, and we do.

José Unidos – “Ahora Iré Por Mí”

The self-titled José Unidos 5 from Fuego Amigos Discos is an experimental flashback to an older age filled with decadent, slow ballads propelled forward by violins, violas, and cellos. The songs though atypical come across as both polished and sonically rich. In “Ahora Iré Por Mí” we get a taste of the enchanting strings as the slow and steady beat crescendos into the kind of song we’d see in any number of films during the main character’s ah-ha! self-actualization. Cue a slow walk away from a fountain and a sudden sunset.

Bandalos Chinos – “Mi Manera de Ser”

With its sleek 80s-inspired production and FM-friendly sound, Bandalos Chinos’ “Mi Manera De Ser” is an anthemic number that wouldn’t sound out of place in a yacht rock compilation. Building upon an uplifting piano chord progression and beefy power chords (not to mention the rallying “heys” in the background), the track perfectly encapsulates the sound of an era marked by excess and creative indulgence without actually incurring in either of those. At the end of the chorus, the band make their intentions very clear: “Me paso los días esperando esperando que enamore mi manera de ser,” and we couldn’t agree more – after winning several awards and playing in some of the city’s top venues and festivals, Bandalos Chinos seem more than ready than ever to abandon their reputation as indie darlings and break into the Argentine mainstream once and for all.

Placard – “Tengo Miedo”

When we saw Placard at their album release show for Yendo last year, singer Laura Carbajal took to the stage visibly pregnant with her son Andrés, the inspiration behind (and intended audience of) the group’s latest release, Beibi; a full-length album of baby-friendly versions of Placard songs. And yes, it is just as pleasant to listen to as one would imagine an album of Placard-songs-for-babies to be. “Tengo Miedo” delights the senses and awakens curiosity with charming melodies and a variety of mysterious yet tender synth sounds, reminiscent of a feel-good video game soundtrack. We recommend listening to it lying on your back, with the night light on. Relax, let go of the constant stress of adulting and get in touch with your inner beibi.