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Written by the La La Lista music staff: Emilyann McKelvey, Evy Duskey, Jorge Farah, Jamie Larson, Ezequiel Mancilla, Pablo Pérez.
Hello! Welcome to the first La La Lista post of 2021, a year that is brimming with hope and excitement and the pigheaded determination that it just has to be better than what we just went through, right? It has to!
Yes, 2020 was problematic year, but one thing’s for sure: it brought us a lot of great music (you can read all about it in our Best Albums of 2020 piece, or watch our video!). And as much as we keep our collective ear to the ground, there are things that do slip past us — to be expected in a scene as rich and varied as this one. So we’re kicking things off by highlighting a few songs that were released over the course of 2020 but we did not cover.
Remember: we do this monthly, so feel free to browse through our archives to find our selections from past months. We’ll be back with another Monthly Music Roundup soon, covering the new releases that 2021 has brought to us. Until then, there’s a lot of recent greatness to discover — we’re just beginning to chip away at it.
Chelo Lares – “9V”
It’s 40 degrees. The pavement is melting under your feet. One of the world’s superpowers is eroding across everyone’s screens in real time. You survived one lockdown but you’re headed for another. Your sweat collects in your brows. The glare off the buildings is making your brain melt out your ears like battery acid. The sound is viscous, channeling through the streets. Musician and producer Chelo Lares’s “9V” is the sound of your digital meltdown. The first track off the near-eponymous EP 9 Volts is a gurgling ode to old-school synth sounds, a meandering trek across a concrete jungle brought to life with 1s and 0s.
Dolores Fonzi – “Segunda Mano”
Not to be confused with the famous Argentine actress, Dolores Fonzi is the project of lo-fi musician Julián Tunni, who has been recording music under that moniker since 2013. Released as a teaser for their eponymous 2020 album, the single “Segunda Mano” instantly brings to mind ‘60s revivalists The Brian Jonestown Massacre with the obvious tambourine reference and epic guitar riffs, blurring the line between bluesy rock’n’roll and psychedelia. Throughout the song, Tunni’s smoky, raspy voice croons, whispers, and wails while the band bursts into flames in the background, evoking a psilocybin-fueled jam session in the middle of a séance.
BILOBA – “Gente”
In September, BILOBA, the solo project of singer-songwriter Lulú Tetelbaum, released Gente / Dicen, a two-track single which we can only hope is the precursor to a full album to come out this year. “Gente” is two and a half minutes of self-love-induced bliss, a relaxing celebration of solitude – the kind that finds you surrounded by the people you love. It’s a song to rock back and forth to in your beach chair, sipping a drink alone while watching party-goers mingle in front of a setting sun. You’re not waiting for anyone to come up and talk to you, you’re not hoping you’ll find someone special to spend the evening with, and you’re not interested in looking. You’re perfectly content in your own company, observing the immensity of the world at your fingertips. Let the SoCal indie rock meets folky bossa nova vibes carry you away into your own little world.
Luca Bocci – “Viaje a Mi”
Luca Bocci’s 2020 release No Pierdas La Simpleza further expanded the singer-songwriter’s sonic palette, a lovely collection of understated pop songs that feel like peeking within the covers of someone else’s journal. “Viaje a Mi” serves as a perfect distillation of everything that makes the album great, fully exploiting the emotional potential of guitar pull-offs and chanted refrains while featuring introspective lyrics about finding one’s authentic self through travels and travails. This is one of those songs that isn’t structured like a regular pop song, where the sense of movement comes from the dynamic shifts through the repetition of its various pieces; the tail end of the verses bend upwards to fill out the space where the song’s chorus should go, creating the effect that you’re being let in on a secret.
El Principe Idiota – “Obrador”
El Principe Idiota is the solo project of Mi Amigo Invencible’s frontman Mariano Di Cesare, and it is clearly where he pours his most outlandish and experimental energy without losing his distinctly melody-driven compositional style. The song “Obrador” off his lockdown EP Gigaaaante is a testament to that. The track features a melancholic and softly-plucked chord progression paired with what seems to be an acoustic bass and some oscillating synths soaring above as Mariano sings about struggling to put his feelings into words, and seeing himself on a cup of tea whilst thinking about his father. It’s the track’s succinct and restrained nature that really cements its subject matter. The emotional hook, the way the voice was recorded, the forlorn melody all coalesce into what I could only describe as the feeling one gets when unearthing a time capsule and reading from old diaries — the bittersweet perfume of youth. A wuthering wave of remembrance.
Acus – “Peluche Peligroso”
Everyone knows the story of Icarus and how his father Daedalus warned him not to fly too close to the sun. However, it’s hard not to be attracted to the absolute fire and heat which is unleashed on this track, which slaps harder than the process of getting your DNI renewed. The artist, producer, and rapper Acus had been simmering like a good locro throughout the quarantine period and out of nowhere released her first studio album in the middle of the year. On the lead single “Peluche Peligroso” she playfully mixes hip hop & trap with wild lyrics presenting an empowered woman with unabashed sexual desire, taking control and breaking the bed in the process. The minimalist instrumentation allows Acus to really dominate from start to finish with a barrage of brilliantly cheeky phrasing and super infectious swagger; exactly the kind of energy we needed in the year that was 2020.
San Martin Vampire – “Simone”
The case of San Martin Vampire is a strange one. The band, formed in the 90s, garnered considerable acclaim and attention from fans, critics, and fellow musicians (Gustavo Cerati famously declared himself a fan). But just as they were starting to gather steam, they disbanded, releasing a single album (the aptly titled Debut y Despedida). Its members went on to form other projects: Rudie and Fabio started Adicta, which became an iconic electro-pop band; Sergio Pangaro became an acclaimed crooner, film composer, and frontman of kitschy-pop outfit Baccarat. Thankfully, the year 2020 saw them reunite and release their first new material in decades. “Simone” is an irresistible synth-pop song that doubles as a tribute to French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir. What more could you want? If you haven’t yet watched its deliciously throwbacky music video, we highly recommend it.