Monthly Music Roundup | July 2020

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that, for a year whose defining feature is to resemble a giant flaming garbage pile, we can’t really complain about the quality of the musical output. We take our job of highlighting our favorite monthly releases from the Argentine independent scene extremely seriously, and we refuse to share a track unless we are thoroughly convinced that it is a worthwhile song to share. For the last few months, we’ve had an overabundance of excellence, to the point where we’ve actually had to leave some out, lest this column be classified as a longread. So let’s celebrate the fact that we have one thing to be glad about. Here are our picks for the cream of the musical crop for July 2020.

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. And hey, not only that, but we also very recently published our list of our favorite albums of 2020 so far — do yourself a favor and go give that a peek. There’s so much good stuff out there.

Jazmín Esquivel – “El Chico de la Película”

Jazmín Esquivel is cool. Both as a solo musician and as a member of power-pop power-trio Mugre, there’s an irrisistibly confident swagger to her compositions, performances, and overall persona; the kind of things that make us feel instantly cooler for being in-the-know about this artist. “El Chico de la Película” is the first single from Jazmín’s upcoming album, her first for record label Discobabydiscos. And where her debut LP Púrpura existed more squarely within the folk genre, here she leans into the direction her live shows have gone: techno-pop with a hint of post-punk backing, swelling distant-night-club synthlines, and piercing guitar lines. It’s a love song, it’s a road movie, it’s a tune about desire and anticipation, and above anything else, it is a maddeningly catchy earworm.

Las Luchas – “El Primer Movimiento”

Some things take time.  Nobody would know this better than Las Luchas (formerly Los Aullidos), who recently changed their name and lineup. But for anyone who worried that the project would lose its legs in the shuffle (we certainly didn’t), their anxiety was misplaced. “El Primer Movimiento” is a noble return for the band, whose grounding power will always be found in the effortlessly melodic frontwoman Maria Morillo. Gradually unfolding over 4 minutes, the song begins with a softly plucked acoustic guitar and military snare rhythms, with Morillo’s silky voice setting the scene. A few Cate LeBon-esque oo’s, a couple well-placed 80s synth sounds, and we arrive to the incredibly playful chorus, which hooks us in for another round. For fans of Deerhoof, The Books, and Cate LeBon. 

Melanie Williams & El Cabloide – “Denadie”

Melanie Williams & El Cabloide have been making waves in the underground scene ever since the release of their debut album Comprensión1. Melanie’s vibrant personality always finds a way to translate into her music, and this latest single is no exception. The tune kicks off with Melanie’s trademark chorus-infused guitar playfully riffing as the whole band joins in with a beat drenched in swaggery vibes; it’s an almost nonchalant attitude that permeates the song’s entirety. I love how the track throws the listener a curveball by seeming to end just a few seconds before the 2-minute mark, only to immediately burst into a trippy refrain of the prior chord progressions. This time, however, sliding synth lines and electronic drum beats breathe fresh air into the song, which ends with Melanie singing the chorus one last time as both her reverb-y voice and watery guitar chords bid the song farewell.

Perro Salchicha – “La Montaña”

You’re bouncing off the walls. You’ve begun slamming into your sofa, remembering your youthful pre-COVID days when those cushions were mosh pits. Your cat keeps wondering why you’re shaking your head so violently as you stir your soup. It’s because of Perro Salchica, gato. Yes, Perro Salchica, a lake boy from the land of Chascomus (and Lagunera Discos) with a killer stage name. His latest single reminds you of a young Van Halen: all rapid guitar, fast drums, synthy grooves, jumping around. But it’s a journey this tune gatito. Instrumentally you’re riding a sort of surf-rock vibe until you find yourself in the middle of a galaxy of reverb. And if we’re being honest it’s the mid-song screams that really just resonate with where you’re at.

Chris Limbs ft. Violenta Josefina – “Abeja Oro”

Chris Limbs’s string of single releases continues, after his collaboration with Fervors bandmate w.a.n.t.o.n which we covered a few months ago. This new song, a collaboration with Buenos Aires-based Venezuelan singer Violenta Josefina, brings a darker edge to his rich synthwave sound. Violenta’s vocals are foreboding and otherworldly, as the instrumental track weaves a labyrinthian maze of hazy ups-and-downs, with a simmering intensity running throughout. Stately piano chords put us firmly in early-aughts Radiohead territory, and the sonic elements that Chris throws in — vocal samples, unexpected keyboard flourishes, various blips-and-bloops — has us questioning just what manner of dark, hulking beast awaits around every corner.  

Diosque – “Mentirosa”

Lies are an inherent part of human existence. We’ve all been lied to at a certain point of our lives, and had to deal with the gruesome consequences of dishonest behavior. The difference between us mere mortals and Juan Román Diosque is that the man can write a 3-minute earworm about it that will leave you humming all week long, whether you want it or not. With “Mentirosa,” Diosque steers away from the sleek, state-of-the-art synthpop of his last three albums and bridges the gap between Argentine folklore and indie pop. The Tucumán native, who already has four full-lengths under his belt, offers us a glimpse into his upcoming album with a tale of betrayal that builds upon a simple chord progression played on a Spanish guitar, reminiscent, at first, of a gentrified chacarera backed up by a digital bombo legüero. So far, so good. Queue some reverb-laden vocal harmonies and, by the time the spaghetti western-esque melody comes in, Diosque already got a hold of the autotune, adding yet another layer of texture into an already exquisite song. To sum it up, “Mentirosa” picks up where I Can Ción (2007) and Bote (2011) left off, rekindling the singer’s love for simple, earnest pop melodies paired with an eclectic lo-fi aesthetic.

Reina & El Principe Heredero – “Porno Soft”

Reina & el Príncipe Heredero is the collaborative project of Reina Ledesma with Joaquín Fernández who could be the next big musical power couple to dominate Buenos Aires. Although both are equally accomplished musicians in their own right, this joining of forces has birthed the release of their self titled debut album with production helmed by Sebastian Mondragon (Estupendo). The standout track in this smorgasbord of lush tunes is “Porno Soft.” It sits between being an 80s synthwave/city pop experience with rhythmic, funky strums adding energetic pulses. Keeping this otherwise chill soundscape moving is the chaotic oscillating drums, theremin samples, and various sample stabs surprisingly providing a soft comfortable bed to lay down on while watching the world go by.  Meanwhile, Reina’s vocals etch towards the cusp of neo-soul while also maintaining her own unique cadence, gliding through the rhythm like a siren’s call beckoning you towards the rocky shore. 

Lea Franov – “Tus Historias”

Bless the infatuated. Bless the longing. The rapid-fire text messages. The sly emoji. Bless the first kisses, the trembling fingers, the obsession. Bless the idealism. Bless the lust. Bless the promises whispered into the dark: “This one will be different.” Bless the questioning. Bless the halting confession. Bless the beginning. Because sometimes that’s the sweetest part. 

With “Tus Historias” Las Edades frontwoman Lea Franov returns with her first solo endeavor since 2016’s El Espacio Interior, but this time she’s not alone. Supported by the wobbly 8-bit synth stylings of instrumental composer Moreu, the song has all the delicate warmth of a new lover’s embrace. Franov’s voice is in its finest form here: alternating tender and coquettish, then hypnotic and seductive. We’ll be listening to this one on repeat for a while.

Ines Errandonea – “La Moneda”

Ines Errandonea has a song she wants to sing. The song is a beautiful ballad, with a placid keyboard accompaniment and gorgeous string flourishes decorating its harmonic corners. Errandonea’s singing is soulful, relaxed, and pleasing to the air. What makes this song more than just a beautiful ballad is that it is also accompanied by a percussion track that is chaotic, unpredictable, and at moments violent — and yet, it feels right, adding a whole new jazzy dimension to a song that is one of the most interesting and unique releases we’ve come across in recent memory. From Montevideo, but based in Buenos Aires, Errandonea was not quite in our radar yet. But thanks to an Instagram message, we’ve stumbled onto a new favorite. Keep an eye out for her.

Bubis Vayins – “Youtube”

Fumo un porro, después me pierdo en YouTube” (I smoke a joint and then get lost in YouTube). Bubis Vayins knows what you did last night. “Youtube” is the first of three tracks on Las Presencias, Pt. 1. This song makes me feel like an obstinate teenager. No, mom, I don’t want to come eat dinner, and you can’t make me! I’m busy doing stuff alone in my room. Is this…quarantine? The song has two different parts representing two different attitudes. One is a sort of bratty resignation — ah, another night alone, consuming, coping, wallowing in my bullshit; a single voice accompanied by a bedroomy synth arpeggio. Then the song erupts in a signature Bubis Vayins sort of breakdown — a screeching dissonant guitar riff over a pounding kick drum, and the whole crew shouts repeatedly: “Hay planetas donde no llega la luz” (There are planets where the sun doesn’t shine) Just a little something to contemplate, before the compulsory return to that overplayed ego story of another lonesome night.

Camila Nebbia – “Las Manos”

Camila Nebbia has long been one of our favorite artists operating as both a sidewoman and bandleader within the Argentine jazz scene, though her work stretches way past the confines of what is commonly understood as jazz, incorporating elements of experimental postmodernist music, poetry, theater and art music. “Las Manos” is the first single off her upcoming album for ears&eyes records, Aura, and it is a five-minute long sonic journey, with elements of both Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman poking through, assembling and disassembling throughout, stretching the limits of what constitutes a song, and surprising us at every turn.