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Written by the La La Lista music staff: Evy Duskey, Jorge Farah, Jamie Larson, Ezequiel Mancilla, Emilyann McKelvey, Monique Nicholas, Pablo Pérez
What’s going on in the news right now? Probably nothing of much consequence, right? Everything is just fine. Everything is just dandy. Nothing’s going to change our little world. And if the rabble-rousing from outside continues to creep into your thoughts and disturb your total zen state, worry not; you can slap on a pair of headphones and be transported to a faraway emotional plane. And in order to aid you in this quest for total musical disassociation, we’ve gathered our favorite new songs from the local scene. Strap in and indulge. Everything is just fine. Everything is just dandy.
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. We also recently published our list of our favorite albums from the first half of 2020— 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 [email protected]. There are no guarantees that we’ll pick it for the column, but we will listen with open eyes and open hearts.
Antonia Navarro – “Hogar”
Take me to the club of your heart, where it beats with all the rhythm of your past journeys, throbs with all your past pains. Here where the dance floor shakes and shimmers with the light and movement of your mind’s eye, we’ll get to know each other better. In the third single from musician Antonia Navarro’s upcoming album, the Chilean turned Platense opens up new sonic horizons that are both intimate and danceable, a lush yet icy self-reflection that could accompany both lonesome jaunts across barren wilderness or the shy movements of a beginner on the dance floor with equal aplomb.
Bestia Bebé – “Música de Suspenso”
For nearly a decade now, Bestia Bebé have made a name for themselves in the local scene as reliable churners of joyfully straightforward and workmanlike stadium-chant indie rock, with a tinge of melancholy and adolescent abandon to round out its jagged edges. And though their new album Gracias Por Nada largely falls along those same lines — there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping crowd-ready singalongs or furiously downstrummed Ramones guitars — it does find the Boedo four-piece leaning more heavily into the sweeter, more sentimental side of their emotional palette. And with this shift towards introspection comes a broader sonic vocabulary, demonstrating an almost cinematic approach to arrangements. “Música de Suspenso,” the album’s clear highlight, employs relentless marching-band drums, sweetly-plucked acoustic arpeggios, computer-glitch sound effects, and layers upon layers of highly compressed distortion to evoke the surprising poignancy of a half-faded anecdote. Like remembering something silly and mundane that happened years ago and finding yourself startled by the power and sheer weight of it. Like being caught off guard by “the little things,” and their continued grip on us.
Marton Marton and Laika Perra Rusa – “La Cochera (Laika Perra Rusa Remix)”
You start with a glimmering skyline and a terrace. There’s a crackle of grilling meat and someone asking you for rolling papers. The beers have long been sipped and the corkscrew’s missing. It’s time to switch the music. We need a beat here. We’re ready for the groove, but a slow one will ease us in. Repetition is good. The looped chorus and poignant piano hold it down, but the echoed distortions keep us moving. And when we hear the CD changing mid-song, we’re ready for the groove all over again. Marton Marton’s latest album, remixing his 2019 Viaje al Centro de la Periferia, is stacked full of these beats. The mashup of frontman MartÍn Villlula’s mellow psychedelics with the layered chaos of a Laika Perra Rusa remix breathes new life into an already beautiful composition.
Marra y les Practicantes – “El Camino del Tigre”
The floaty title track from Marra y Les Practicantes’s debut EP immediately transports you to the crisp green fields of an afternoon spring day, the wind whipping through the adjacent valleys. Originating in La Plata, and featuring visual and aural nods to Chinese contemporary folk music, the band shifts into the world of lo-fi hip-hop, its hallmarks adding to the already enchanting blend of melodies and well accented back-up vocals that round off the song’s irresistibly catchy chorus. Without revealing too much of my weeaboo sensibilities, I will say that the song evokes some of the same emotions as those bittersweet end credit sequences in anime, maintaining a hopeful innocence within a blissful package. If you’re looking for the perfect chill-out song in the lead up to summer, this should definitely be at the top of your list. We’re intrigued to see the band’s next steps.
Franco Dolzani – “Sofisticada Negación”
After enamoring us with his debut album Busco Trabajo in 2019, we had high expectations for the next release of rising Santefesino star Franco Dolzani. And he did not disappoint. It certainly wasn’t easy to choose a song off Peor es nada, which manages to run the gamut from full-on rolinga rock’n’roll, to dub-inspired rock, to R&B-inspired pop, to full-on dark psychedelic dub, in all of four explosive tracks. We ended up going with “Sofisticada Negación”, for its fierce and fiery pop chorus, and meticulously crafted lyrical landscape that strikes a surprising (yet highly characteristic) balance between the soft and the sinister. With metaphors just vague enough yet just specific enough to appeal to something you’re definitely experiencing in your life right now — although you might have chosen not to accept it yet.
Perro Salchicha – “Paraíso”
Let’s get this out of the way real quick: very few artists have a cooler stage name than Sebastián Yaques Borro, aka Perro Salchicha. Anything that brings to mind the adorable sausage-shaped dog and their extremely short limbs gets my instant seal of approval. But regardless of this silly, childish bias, Yaques Borro’s catalog also happens to be one of the most interesting in Buenos Aires’ current independent scene. On “Paraíso,” the Lagunera affiliate showcases his versatility, steering away from the energetic indie rock of his earlier 2020 single “La Montaña” to take us on a mellower, hazier trip that will wanna make you blaze it up 420. Starting off with a minimalist sub-bass line, the track slowly bubbles up to the surface with phased out guitars, syncopated drums, and a solid base of keyboards, giving it a very obvious dub feel (hence the hilarious cover with a dachshund replacing the Lion of Judah) that never feels forced or contrived. And just like a dachshund, “Paraíso” keeps it short and sweet – clocking in at a concise 2:22, this atmospheric single connects the unlikely dots between small dog breeds and Rastafari culture.
Jesús y los Desiertos – “Una Vez Más”
Here’s where I cop to some of my personal musical kinks: poppy, well-formed melodies that burrow their way into your subconscious mind; a rhythmic base that is deceptively tricky, giving the constant impression that the song is slipping away from itself while maintaining a spritzy musicality; arrangements that echo or underline the lyrical themes that run through the song; swelling strings that overtake instrumental sections like some sort of benign virus; shakers and palm-muted guitars. The new single by fresh-faced newcomers Jesús y los Desiertos delivers on every single one of these things, immediately catching our attention and entering our purview with aplomb.
Weste – “Mansa”
A subtle air of sensual naiveté run through pop duo Weste’s latest single, which relies heavily on percussive texture and delicate, glassy instrumental nuances as the track unfolds. The way Weste manages to synergize all the elements at play in “Mansa” is admirable. From the deep and resounding 808 drum kicks and the hard-panned clicks and clacks peppered throughout the track, to the warm nylon string guitar and twinkly synth lines. I could count more than 5 layers of melody and drum tracks while I was listening to the chorus and not even once did I find it cluttered or overwhelming. The more you listen to it, the more “Mansa” reveals itself as a deeply complex tune, despite it being a rather easy 4-minute listen. Certainly a must-listen for those who are into trippy electronic pop but don’t want to go hard. Weste knows best: the tenderer, the better.
Agustina Bécares – “El Camino”
Agustina Bécares’s new release Breve Relato de un Suceso Irreversible is a five-track tour-de-force; a collection of finely-honed pieces of cinematic soundscapes and displays of pure emotion, with musical styles that run the gamut from 90s-trip-hop-influenced bangers (such as our pick for this month, the labyrinthian opener “El Camino”) to delicate, almost folky acoustic-guitar-based ballads. And while the songs maintain a discreet sense of sonic individuality, there’s a captivating darkness that runs through the entire collection, tied together by Bécares’s deeply compelling delivery. “El Camino” provides us with the same feeling as slowly sinking into a good psychological thriller, and we are 100% here to see where it takes us.