Monthly Music Roundup | February 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, Margaux Williams.

Welcome, music lovers, to another installment of La La Lista’s Monthly Music Roundup, where we take stock of the hot new releases in the Argentine music scene from the last month (or so) and wax poetic about them. 

It is also the first day of March, which means it’s the time of the year where we start freaking out about how quick time is moving — an effect that is now exacerbated by months of isolation. Fun! Thankfully we have music to keep us in balance.

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.

Jazmín Esquivel – “Nunca Te Tuve”

This one escaped our radar last month, so we thought we’d rectify that immediately. After hitting it out of the park with the dancy synthpop number “El Chico de la Película” and the confrontational “Una Mierda,” Jazmín continues her hot streak with the last single from her upcoming studio album, the menacing and sparse “Nunca Te Tuve.” Solely featuring Esquivel’s voice and two guitars, one acoustic and one electric, “Nunca Te Tuve” documents heartbreak with laser-sharp precision, with each one of her words acting as poisonous darts sinking into the image of the person who betrayed us. In terms of vibe, the song feels strangely intimate but is not without its thorns — it’s constantly on the verge of blowing up but never quite explodes, adding to the underlying tension generated by the eerie autotuned, almost robotic vocals and the absolute lack of percussion. Dramatically different from her previous 2020 singles, “Nunca Te Tuve” provides a pared-down, minimalist version of her revamped sound, increasing the level of manija surrounding her highly-anticipated sophomore effort.

Máximo Disfrute – “Jardín Aéreo”

We should feel freer now. Bars are serving both indoors and out, cinemas are re-opening at 30% capacity, and some of our favorite bands are beginning to give shows again. But many of us find ourselves drained and distant, reluctant to venture out in the streets and mingle with our friends. And is it really that surprising? After all, we spent months and months cultivating a semblance of emancipation while the city was undeniably dead, unrecognizable to all who knew it. “Jardín Aéreo,” the first single released by musician and producer Máximo Disfrute, speaks to finding liberty during lockdown via the breeze drifting into his home, wafting through balcony gardens. The jangly, psychedelic pop song is a dreamy ode to indulging your senses and looking for relief on the greener side of things. For fans of Tame Impala, Apples in Stereo, and hazy summer nights.

Paula Trama – “Helados Verdes”

Paula Trama has made it her specialty to explore raw emotional truths in song, and her band Los Besos have long been deployed as an effective tool to explore them. On her new solo live release, En Vivo en el Xirgu, Trama strips these songs down to their core and presents them unadorned and uncluttered, just vocals and piano. She applies this format to songs from her various projects, including collaborations such as “Los Días Que No Estás” from Barbi Recanati’s Ubicación en Tiempo Real. Songs like the plaintive “Helados Verdes,” already a gorgeously melodic collection of mementos, take on a whole new poignancy in this bare-bones presentation. An absolutely stunning song and performance from one of the greatest songwriters in the local music scene.       

Bele – “Todas Las Raíces”

“Todas Las Raíces” is a single off of Bele’s debut album Desparezco. Swelling vocals play a prominent role in this track, which is laden with crushed snares that add a ferocity to this floaty tale. An industrial intro leads you into the royal flush of hypnotizing dark synths, layered with creeping bass in the chorus. This may be Bele’s first foray into releasing music, but the maturity on display betrays a seasoned musician who treats each creation like a refined recipe, with each intricate part creating a flavorsome dish. The sparse instrumentation during the verses leaves you yearning for more, making the impact of each component all the more exciting when combined with lyrically simplistic phrasing. The powerful choral finale puts a mystical full stop on this tribal track.

Damsel Talk & Nicolás Boccanera – “By the Roots”

Speaking of roots. UK-born, Buenos Aires-residing singer-songwriter Damsel Talk has released some of our favorite music in the local scene, melding jazz with improvisational theater and performance art. The darkly melancholic new track “By the Roots” is a collaboration with pianist Nicolás Boccanera and the first single off their upcoming album, which serves as the follow-up to 2019’s Darling Darling and Other Stories. Based on this track, it would appear that the pair are headed on a starker direction, dueting with each other on their respective instruments: Damsel Talk’s voice, powerful as it is pliable, able to evoke the deepest feeling with ease and aplomb; Boccanera’s playing, elegant and expressive, exploring the emotional contours of the song’s tonal center. It is as gorgeous, powerful and enigmatic as anything Damsel Talk has done so far, and as a lead single it has succeeded at getting us excited about the album.

Fin del Mundo – “El Incendio”

After a stellar self-titled debut EP, the girls from Fin del Mundo have left listeners wondering what their next step would be. This month, the veil of mystery was finally lifted with the release of their latest singe “El Incendio.” Right off the bat, the chorus-infused guitars and the fast-paced drums subject the listener to the emotionally enticing sound of their debut. However, the tune puts the band’s fervid side into the forefront when fuzzed-out guitars are thrown into the mix both in the uptempo intro and the soothing verse. While the song remains almost purely instrumental by adding rhythmic variation and catchy and melodic guitar lines, Julieta’s breezy vocals paired with the harmonies make one feel like falling in slow motion through the ashen remains of a fire. It’s truly commendable to see Fin del Mundo dip their toes into new waters and we’d love to see them experiment even more for the coming record.

Azul. – “Sometimes It’s Not Enough”

“Sometimes It’s Not Enough” by Azul. feels like stretching out on the silkiest sheets your skin has ever touched. Then that first twangy drop makes you suddenly close your eyes and wince, you remember now, that beautiful pain, it’s love. Keep your eyes closed and she’s suddenly in your living room under a stoplight, serenading you and everyone else all over the world who’s ever had a broken heart. Play it on repeat and sink down even further. The end leads your right back to the beginning, just like the start of a fleeting romance, coming to a boil as steadily as it burns out. This sweet sax-filled lullaby is the first ever track to be released by the artist representing Zona Oeste and we’re eager for more.

T. Pojaghi – “A La Gracia”

La perturbación se ha vuelto mi causa secreta (“Perturbation has become my secret cause”) is the debut album by solo artist T. Pojaghi. A concept album that explores the dysfunction of the Human Operating System, a secret garden dissolved in a smoke machine. T. Pojaghi’s darkwave-inspired experimental style offers us a spectrum of vibes ranging from suspensefully calm and curious ambience, an eerie, fluid, not-quite-human sort of sensuality, and dark and danceable al palo electro beat grooves. The phone is off the hook, spewing dial-up into the void, the slow and pathetic 4.0 apocalypse is upon us, humans line up to have their barcodes scanned, surrendering their asinine and out-of-date flesh and blood to inevitable convergence with the computational algorithm, a quantum leap to an updated matrix of existence, where robots express bizarre emotional desires through binary code. “A La Gracia,” the first track on side B, stands out as being the “catchiest” song off the album.

J4Z – “Bruto”

“Bruto,” the brilliant new single by Jazmin Riera’s project J4Z, comes at the heels of her 2020 releases “Ángel” and “2+2”. And while it features several of the elements that made those releases so compelling, “Bruto” feels like it’s on a whole other level, its piano hook gradually giving way to a bed of crackly microbeats and eventually an irresistible foor-on-the-floor beat that elevates this song — a thoughtful rumination on oppressive masculinity and the culture of instant gratification — into a certified banger. Fun enough to dance to, deep enough to ponder, and weird enough to put on a playlist for your arty get-togethers, we’re big fans of this song and artist. An act to keep an eye on.

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