Monthly Music Roundup | January 2021

Para leer la versión en español de este artículo, hacé clic acá.

Written by the La La Lista music staff: Evy Duskey, Jorge Farah, Jamie Larson, Emilyann McKelvey, Ezequiel Mancilla, Monique Nicholas, Pablo Pérez.

Welcome to the first proper installment of La La Lista’s Monthly Music Roundup, the series where we share (and wax poetic) on our favorite recent releases from the local music scene.

If you missed it, last time around we highlighted a group of songs released during 2020 that originally passed us by, and shortly before that we shared our selection of favorite albums & EPs of the year (which was accompanied by a pretty nifty little video — check it out here). After that bit of housekeeping, and now that we’ve started the year off properly, it’s time to take a look at some of the releases from the last month that moved us one way or another.

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 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.

Facundo Grandío – “Decírtelo”

Expressing love can be tricky business. Many of the most gifted writers and songwriters in history have spent the better part of their lifetimes searching for new ways of sharing their devotion to their beloved through their art. Maybe they never find just the right turn of phrase or melodic line to capture the depth of their feeling. Facundo Grandío openly considers this possibility in the lyrics of “Decirtelo,” the dreamy fourth single released in anticipation of his debut album, Todo encuentra su lugar: “Y tal vez no encuentro la manera de decir / Cuanto te quiero, te quiero.” The instrumentation accompanies his tender musings, with a walking fretless bass line that meanders around each verse, before abruptly turning into the borderline R&B hooks of the chorus. The percussion and vocal harmonies at times flirt with bossa nova, while the baroque arrangements wouldn’t be out of place in one of Spinetta’s later albums.  Although the song was released in November of 2020, the videoclip above was released late last month and brought to our attention by the artist. We’re grateful that he did. 

Prima Limón – “Tranquilo”

Hailing from Rosario, Prima Limón is the musical project of Julia Capoduro, who defines her music style as “deformed pop music”. Of course, that description was more than enough to perk our ears up and get us listening. Over 2020 she released two singles under the Prima Limón banner: the claustrophobic and disconcertingly jazzy “Los Planes,” and then last month “Tranquilo,” a jittery and energetic blast of high-tempo anxiety. The track is a collaboration with Nico Pagliaroli from Mi Primo Fosforescente, and its wild mood swings between manic bursts of nervous energy and spacey, ethereal (yet no less high-strung) sections affirm its status as a deformed pop anomaly. We’re big fans of musical representations of worry and paranoia, so we’re sold. 

Cochecama – “Al Bosque”

The latest release by Buenos Aires based Cochecama sees a blend of folk/bluegrass and psychedelia mix into a strongly rhythmic driving track, dabbling into brave fringes and allowing interjections of rock violin take this already catchy song into some pretty wavy places. ‘Al Bosque’ is the first look at the more mature motley crue of Cochecama, and its defining moment is the instrumental bridge which leads this epic entry back into the chorus. This familiar phrasing rewards with you a brilliantly added vocal hum which follows the melody to pull you back into the final run. Cochecama has explored other avenues in their previously released ‘Edad Media’ (2018) & their debut self titled album (2015). It seems like the band is on the precipice of releasing new music and only time will tell but this is certainly a great indication of things to come while they journey to bolder places.  

Shitstem – “HWGA”

Mar del Plata has become a hotbed of talented new artists, and Shitstem is the latest one to join the ranks. After releasing a series of fresh singles over the last year, she brings us the beautiful “HWGA,” a downbeat track that serves as an outlet for the rapper’s anxieties and frustrations. Bringing an introspective sound to hip-hop, and putting sullen guitar arpeggios against trap hi-hats as her musical backing, the song’s lyrical themes and overall sound have caused the local press to apply the “emo trap” label on her work. Indeed, the track recalls moments from JUICE WRLD’s posthumous album from last year, but without the crushing sadness and hopelessness that is present throughout the late rapper’s songs. In fact, Shitstem’s song ends with a moment of hopefulness, singing the praises of music as a healing artform that provides her life with purpose and meaning. 

Tani, Rodrigo Armando – “Magnificent Gestures

The creative partnership between Tani and Rodrigo Armando is just the gift that keeps on giving. After nailing a cover of The Association’s sunshine pop anthem “Never My Love” on 2019’s Hollywood, Armando’s first EP as Poirot, and turning Johnny Mercer’s 1943 jazz standard “Dream” into an eerily soothing dream pop reverie, the pair decided to tackle something a bit more contemporary. For “Magnificent Gestures,” a deep cut from Cate le Bon’s 2019 album Reward, Tani and Armando succeed in replicating the minimalist nature of the original and making it their own, without ever sounding derivative. Unlike le Bon’s fractured, angular post-punk energy, their rendition of the track feels a bit more innocent and kinetic, propelled by a motorik beat that provides a continuous sense of motion and keeps the song engaging through and through. Like in both of their previous collabs, the duo really compliment each other here and shine on different fronts – Armando does a great job keeping things simple and giving the song the space it needs, and Tani adds an extra layer of depth with her effortlessly cool vocal delivery, shadowing le Bon while bringing a little playfulness to the table.

Quillo, Marty Kaleta – “El Mar”

Quillén Muñiz, a.k.a. Quillo, joins forces with Tincho frontman Marty Kaleta on this groovy little bilingual throwback. Based around an organ sound that places us right in the 1960s (or sometime in the 90s during the strange cultural moment that gave us a 1960s revival — think Smash Mouth’s “Walking on the Sun”), the song is utterly irresistible as it goes from hook to hook, its 3 minutes and 42 second runtime breezing right past. The song is oddly suited for the exact weather we are experiencing at the moment; the oppressive summer heat gradually giving way to a cooler, rainier grey. A superimposed shot of drab London town and a sunny beachside vista. This collaboration has already resulted in a couple fantastic songs. We hope it will continue to expand.   

Paz Asurabarrena – “Guerra”

Someone’s snapping and there’s a haze of strings. You’ve been pulled into some sort of dreamlike state. There’s a room full of people. Strangers. Sweaty. Swaying. The lights flicker and the beat kicks in slow. You don’t know where your hands are, but you know they’re moving. You’re moving–your hips following the melodies as you surrender into the communal daze. The isolated keys of synth engulf you further and suddenly you become the layered voices, “Cambiaron las reglas, ya no soy lo mismo que antes, sola lo que me enseñaste (They’ve changed all the rules, I’m not the same as before, only what you taught me).” The sultry softness of Paz Asurabarrena’s voice is drawn out as the rhythm picks up. There’s a light drum that’s building slowly but ends before we’re ready to still making for one hell of a sexy war cry.

Modem – “Éxodo”

There is a sense of distance that runs through the new single by Modem, the psych-pop duo of Agustín Cuadrelli and Ignacio Feito. Is it the reverby, disembodied vocals that sound like they’re being projected over from another plane of existence? Is it the fact that the musical bed is made up of keyboard and guitar melodies that appear at first to sit at odds with each other, only to make more and more musical sense as the song goes on? Or is it the track’s overall hollowed-out production, which sounds (in the best way possible) like we’re listening along from three rooms over? We’re not sure, but we’re into it. “Éxodo” feels very much like floating in place for its six-and-a-half minute runtime, and the place where you’re floating is unsettling and unfamiliar. We’re into it.

Paco Amoroso – “Sabe”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely pretty familiar with Argentine trap’s most iconic duo: Ca7riel and Paco Amoroso. Having sold out practically all of their shows before lockdown and taking the trap scene by storm for the better half of 2019 and (to a lesser extent) 2020, they’ve released banger after banger. While Ca7riel is doing his stuff on the side, Paco is certainly not lagging behind. His latest single “Sabe” combines dancehall beats with spaced-out saxophone flourishes. Think of it as trippy summer-vibe reggaeton. There’s also a fair share of jazzy synth chords that tie into the tune’s subject matters: summer heat, infatuation, lovemaking, and the bustling city of Buenos Aires. What’s more, Paco’s nonchalant vocal inflections help build an aura of seduction around the track with some slightly distorted vocal overlaps in the background. While the hype around the Ca7riel and Paco duo might have been died down a bit, there’s no reason to miss out on what Paco has been doing on his solo efforts.

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