Monthly Music Roundup | September 2020

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It doesn’t matter that the world is on fire. It doesn’t matter that we remain shackled to a capricious a morally corrupt system that is rendered increasingly irrational by the state of the world around us. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been rendered immobile by a devastating pandemic. None of those things will stop us from giving you our selection of favorite tracks from the independent music scene of Argentina that were released over the past month. No one can stop us. Not you. Not Covid. Not God herself. 

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. Not only that, but we also 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.

Oh, and one last thing — are you an artist? Do you have a recent release that you think we absolutely should check out? Hit us up on Instagram, or by emailing team@lalalista.com. There are no guarantees that we’ll pick it for the column, but we will listen with open eyes and open hearts.

Ruidas – “Mundo”

“Mundo multicolor y sensual” (“sexy, multi-colored world”) is the mantra that repeats throughout this brilliant track. If you’re wondering, yes, it is a Simpsons reference. How does one convey a subdued listlessness and a wide-eyed sense of wonder in the same track — nay, in the same exact melody line? “Mundo” by Ruidas is a delightful piece of power-pop that marries the understated exuberance of acts like Snail Mail with the more muscular musical approach of the late-70s punk and New Wave scenes. There is something deliberately retro about the song — and whether that comes from the swelling synth lines that decorate its verses, the reverb-laden guitar leads, or even that piece of video game music that closes the track out, the sound reminds us that wonder and ennui are not mutually exclusive, and the intersection of the two has been fueling our musical curiosity for decades. Humans are complicated. It’s great.

Automail – “6.30”

On “6.30,” the duo composed of Rosalba Menna and Franco Calluso offer their own take on the trap zeitgeist while staying faithful to the atmospheric brand of synthpop they’ve been cultivating since they debuted in 2018. The single starts off with a deep sub-bass and icy electronics, with Menna’s voice delivering exquisite one-liners such as “‘tamos jugando mucho Jenga pa’ olvidarnos de vos” (“we’re playing a lot of Jenga to forget about you”) or “ay, no te asustes, que a tus amuletos los tengo en el freezer” (“don’t be scared, I’ve got your good-luck charms in the freezer”), as if trying to downplay the track’s obvious ominous undertones by infusing it with twisted slivers of off-kilter humor.

I mentioned trap earlier, and you might be wondering “we’re halfway through the song already, when is the beat gonna kick in?” Queue the skeletal, reverb-laden percussion which, despite not making use of the genre’s over-the-top hi-hat patterns, acts as a perfect anchor to Menna’s musings about fires, red eyes, and broken bones. “6.30” is low-key spooky, forward-thinking pop music that defies categorization, providing our 2020 selves the best soundtrack for screaming internally while we watch the world burn.

Océanos – “Tema Triste”

Vendrán Lluvias Suaves (gentle rains will come) is the debut full-length album from four-piece shoegaze/post-rock group Océanos. “Tema Triste” (“sad song”), the album’s lead single, is the second of ten tracks, and while it does live up to its name, we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill basic sadness. It’s a complex and shimmery sadness, with moments of rage, nostalgia, and mystery. Sonic textures are woven together creating a sophisticated tapestry of emotion, with a depth and dynamic whose ebb and flow of softness and intensity can be interpreted as an allusion to the title of the album. From a drizzle, to a shower, to a downpour, to thunder and lighting, to the silver lining and the parting of the clouds, the song takes the shape of a rainy day. An excuse to stay in bed and wallow; but maybe that’s exactly what you needed.

Casandra Molinari – Instrucciones para sentir el vacío

Casandra Molinari knows how to cast a spell. A spell so powerful that we’re actually reviewing her entire 3-song “single” instead of just one song because 1) it’s that good and 2) we make the rules. Instrucciones para sentir el vacío clocks in at about eight and a half minutes total, making it the perfect meditation for those of us who have emptiness that needs feeling (not filling). From the simple but hypnotic rhythmic guitar line of “Introducción al Miedo,” to the spoken word outro of “Experimentación del Encierro,” Molinari dives deep into pools of self-reflection and reckoning, never shying away from the necessary sonic space that gives this release its profound gravitational pull. Molinari’s voice is plaintive and captivating, capitalizing on its effortless beauty to draw us in before delivering devastating self-truths, “How much time will I have wasted doing things that didn’t call to me at all?” If this latest release is any evidence of what’s to come, our answer would be “not very much, we hope.”

Penny Peligro – “Ropa Vieja”

When the earth is burning and the economy is failing, when there’s 70 year old infants bickering on every screen, we turn the frenetic guitar and steady drums up. We sit for a moment in the sweet harmonies. We shout the unintelligible “bada bada bada bada ba da da daaaaa.” We drown out the crumbling and shake fervently to wake ourselves up. Because “nada que duela va a quedar. Nada que raspe sin sanar.” (“Nothing that hurts will last. Nothing scars without healing.”) And there can’t be “holes without the ability to patch,” (“ningún agujero sin remendar”). Penny Peligro’s new release gives us a song to hold onto, something to slide around kitchen floors to, and plants a much needed seed of hope.

Inés Errandonea – “Círculo”

Inés Errandonea had a lot to live up to, after her last single “La Moneda” blew us away a couple of months ago with its lush, cinematic sound. Fortunately for us, her follow-up delivered, though in a completely different way; where “La Moneda” was a beautiful ballad with a string section and a surprisingly chaotic percussion track, “Círculo” is a 1970s-influenced rocker with a roaring guitar riff and a psychedelic slant, though it displays the same amount of care put into the composition and the recording. The song is accentuated by a veritable choir of backing vocals — oohs-and-ahhs that punctuate the song’s harmonic contours and round out the track. The song’s structure mirrors the lyrical theme, as the main riff feels deliciously “circular” against Errandonea’s vocals; and though it may be a little tricky to get a handle on, it is utterly rewarding. Another winner from one of our favorite new voices  

Saico y la Orden del Tornillo – “Fobia”

The slacker rockers emerge from the shadows to deliver washed-out denim drones in this ploddingly melancholic track. The song title is made all the more fitting by the haunting sound of a theremin creeping in the background. And though this song won’t be compelling you towards the dance floor, its monotone, Malkmus-reminiscent delivery, coupled with a playfully sloppy rhythm section, beautifully matches the stripped-back guitar line which pulls a strong middle finger to the virtuoso musicianship and dribbling, self-indulgent guitar solos. Yes, the lyrics are dark, but the song plays off the acceptance of all that is bad while just facing it head on with a shrug of “oh well, I guess this is how life is.” “Fobia” drip-feeds you a softer side of punk, showing rebellion by displaying a refreshing nonchalance towards the hardships of the day-to-day.    

Radiodetectors – “Babilonya”

It’s late on Thursday night. The week has been even more soul-sucking and mind-numbing than usual — a notable feat after 6 months of quarantine. Two days before, you watched as the President of the United States delivered one of his most mind-numbingly sociopathic performances yet. You’re getting work emails at 10 pm that you find yourself responding to,  with all the civility that you can muster (which to be honest, isn’t a whole lot). You stare at the ceiling, drained and frustrated, biting back the bitter iron taste of the inside of your cage. “Babilonya,” the leading track off Radiodetectors’ debut full-length, instrumental album Moon, is the song you need right now. Punch the ceiling. Jump up and down on your bed. Scream into the pillow. You don’t need more words. You need to let all of its gloriously post-punk, instrumental aggression course through you with every ferocious beat and savage synth line. There, that’s better. 

Bandalos Chinos – “El Ídolo”

Kill your idols. Whether it’s your favorite band, your country’s most revered pop icon or even your significant other, the message is clear: kill whatever warped image you’ve created around them before you actually start to believe it. That’s exactly what Bandalos Chinos’s brand new single is all about. “El Idolo” shows the band seemingly departing from their dancier and funkier roots into their more nuanced and fleshed out version of the rock & roll sound. One only needs to listen to the first minute to notice how lush, almost Elvis Presley-ish string arrangements lead us into a fuzzy and steady chorus – sax solo, stabbing keyboard octaves and the whole affair. Lead singer Goyo’s voice really benefits from this change of pace from the band’s more syncopated back catalogue, as the steadfast rhythm section allows for a more playful vocal melody and performance. “El Idolo” shows Bandalos Chinos playing outside of their comfort zone; it’s too early to know if this will be the road they’ll be taking from now on. Fortunately for, they’re pulling out all the stops. 

Emily And – “Bless You (11 Febrero) [The Universe Sneezes]”

“Bless You (11 Febrero) [The Universe Sneezes]”, the blistering album closer from singer-songwriter Emily And’s new album “Mom, Are You a Robot?” y Otras Dudas Existenciales Falopas de Cuarentena, has a title, a subtitle, and a sub-subtitle. It also packs an extraordinary amount of lyrics into its less-than-two-minute runtime, a cacophonous whirlwind of intrusive hypotheses and paranoia that mirrors the kind of milisecond-mental-breakdowns one is prone to in the midst of a global pandemic (and all the accompanying implications). All of this is set to a delightful garage-punk sound that recalls, among other things, the thrashier side of Boom Boom Kid and acts like Tiger Trap and Bikini Kill. We started this list by marveling at how the Ruidas track manages to sound both listless and wide-eyed at the same time; similarly, Emily And manages to sound sardonic, bleakly apocalyptic, and utterly triumphant all at once. An apocalypse each time the universe sneezes.