What a different world we’re living in, one year since the last 8M. We don’t need to go into the gruesome details: global pandemic, political turmoil, rising class inequality — after all, we’re still living it. But this 8M is different. This is the first 8M in history that women in Argentina aren’t striking for the right to abortion. This year, women around the country refocus their efforts on the struggles that remain: unequal pay, harassment, homophobia and transphobia, and femicide.
And so we march on. In the first two months of 2021, we’ve already lost 52 women to femicide: a woman dead every 29 hours, maintaining the same horrible frequency as 2020. Almost 300 women were murdered last year — at the least the ones we know of. 65.5% of those deaths were at the hands of the victim’s partners or ex-partners. And these statistics surely fail to capture the many non-binary and trans victims who our justice system continues to fail.
We will reflect on these losses today. We will not forget them.
La La Lista is not, generally speaking, a magazine dedicated to social justice. We largely devote our efforts to lifting up the many female, non-binary, and trans artists and creators in the local scene. And so, as a small act of solidarity, we’ve compiled this list of 41 musicians that fall under this category, musicians who released outstanding songs during a most difficult year and featured in our Monthly Music Roundups of new local releases. We hope they will inspire you as much as they have us.
Isla Mujeres – “Desordenar”
“Desordenar,” released this past December, is the latest single from another La Plata-bred cool chick band, Isla Mujeres. With chaotic sonic layers, this song takes you places. At first you’re sparkling into outer space, next you find yourself fighting off laser beams. About mid-song you’ll be shaking your head back and forth in the middle of a dance hall until the layered melodies over tambourine takes you home to the pop-indie goodness we’ve grown to expect from them.
Churupaca – “Luna Nueva”
Churupaca are all about the melting-pot effect. The feeling of listening to their music is like having your brain pulled in several very different directions at the same time. Their most recent release, “Luna Nueva,” with its silky nighttime textures makes you feel at times like you’re listening to an after-hours chillwave recording, before reminding you through its instrumentation and rhythms that this is a band that has its roots in the Latin American folk tradition. Then elements of Balkan music start popping up, then maybe a touch of klezmer, and pretty soon you’re willing to accept genre as an utterly meaningless social construct.
Ainda – “Lado B”
“No hay mucho más que hacer, bailar el lado B.” Released on March 20th (i.e. the first day of mandatory quarantine in Argentina), the latest single from indie pop duo Ainda couldn’t have been composed with our current context in mind. But luckily for us and our ever-increasing anxiety levels, the sweet resignation of its lyrics is accompanied by soothing 80s synths and an infinitely singable arrangement — the kind of thing one can sweep-dance across the kitchen floor to for the 7th time in 2 days. We’re ready to surrender.
Blanco Teta – “Yanina”
Blanco Teta, the violent and fervorous fourtet made up by Violeta Garcia, Carola Zelaschi, Carlos Quebrada, and Josefina Barreix is as trasgressive as their choice of moniker. After some teaser tracks during the last half of 2019, Blanco Teta deliver a mean and dirty set tracks on Incendiada, their fast and blistering sophomore record. “Yanina,“ one of the deep cuts on said record, features sluggish and unpredictable drum sections coupled with hellish violoncello stabs and creaks. The attention to detail in this track is remarkable; clocking in at a duration of merely one minute and fifty one seconds, you are subjected to distant demonic and guttural vocal overdubs, glitchy alarm-like abrasive noise loops, and anxiety-inducing glissandos right out of a horror movie. You should check this and all the tracks off Incendiada; just make sure to listen to it with the lights on, to keep the demons away.
Barbi Recanati ft. Paula Trama – “Los Días Que No Estás”
Barbi Recanati is an immensely talented singer and songwriter who first became known to the public as the lead singer of Utopians, later kickstarting a solo career that has been just as much about releasing her own music as it has been about signal-boosting other projects. Her label Goza Records has been consistently putting out excellent work (and feature three songs on our column this month!), and her defiant power-pop stylings made her an instant favorite of ours. It’s no surprise that her new album Ubicación en Tiempo Real immediately resonated with us, and particularly the stunning track “Los Días Que No Estás”. A collaboration with Paula Trama from Los Besos (whose work we’re also big fans of!) that’s a devastating depiction of loss, with sharp guitar leads stabbing through the fog of dreamy depression that the song conjures up. Beautiful stuff.
Alelí Cheval – “Os Estrangeiros”
Brazilian-Argentine singer-songwriter Alelí Cheval (one half of Telefonema) returns with a solo offering that harkens back to mid-90s trip-hop; its steady medicine-drip beat punctuates the slow swells of synth strings and elegant James-Bond-theme guitars, accompanying Cheval’s plaintive vocal performance. It feels like being suspended in space as time itself crawls to a brief halt, picking back up after the song’s abrupt closing.
La Negra Nieves – “Todo Lo Que Quieras”
On “Todo Lo Que Quieras,” nine-piece, all-female band La Negra Nieves trade in their usual funk and soul tendencies for a more urgent, indie rock-oriented sound without losing any of the mystery or sensuality of their previous work. The song, featuring overtly sexual lyrics and prominent guitars, finds the group experimenting with a new sound palette that seamlessly alternates between the groovy demeanor of their first album (the eponymous La Negra Nieves) and a harsher, more dissonant aesthetic. Brass arrangements are present throughout the entire song, adding delicate little flourishes that provide a perfect counterpoint to the track’s more angular elements. The single might represent a departure from the band’s incipient yet fascinating oeuvre but it’s also a testament to La Negra Nieves’s defiant, genre-bending versatility.
Dulsemarinita – “Más Mimos”
Dulsemarinita, Marina Verduci’s eclectic and multifaceted alter ego surprises us with an out-of-nowhere single release on the heels of her debut Del Museo de Los Monstruos. On “Más Mimos,” Dulse’s warm tone takes us through what seems at first like a dark and somber song with the lyrics “ayer, estaba muy triste, no entendía la vida“. With slight harmonic detours, the song suggests a change of mood, and then the tune takes a sudden turn, just as sudden as the protagonist’s realization that she can certainly ask for more mimos. A funky guitar and a wild arpeggiated synth solo kick the song into high gear. Halfway through the song, Dulse compares cuddles to other creature comforts like chocolate and carbohydrates; it’s nice to get such a playful song about the importance of physical contact in times of isolation. On that front, and many others, Dulsemarinita delivers.
Hilos – “Ojos Cristal”
“Indie folk” is a genre that can often sound too twee, too precious, too dusted-petal delicate for its own good; when done wrong, it sounds like a group of artists trying their best to score a precocious early-2000s indie comedy. When an artist takes a stab at the genre that makes it feel expansive, immersive, and grand, it makes you realize all the potential in that aesthetic. “Ojos Cristal” by indie-folk group Hilos is a fantastic example of this, a beautiful (and very skillfully produced) song that serves as an awestruck paean to nature and our collective place in it.
Lola Cobach – “Close to You”
Let’s talk about covers. Include them in a live show, and you’re offering a mid-set sonic biscuit to the audience, a momentary bit of bonding that makes the performance that much more memorable. But actually recording a cover is high-stakes business, especially when a song is considered canon for a beloved artist. Luckily the risk pays off handily for local folk singer/songwriter and session musician Lola Cobach, who takes the song (a leading single off the Carpenters album of the same name) into r&b territory, complete with crooning vocals, Rhodes piano, and a strangely perfect slide guitar solo. Dare we even say we enjoy it more than the original? We dare, and we do.
Para No Morir – “Constitución”
Constitución is a sketchy place, that’s a fact. Depending on your ideological compass, you might see it as a portal to the underworld or simply a working class neighborhood where commuters from all over the city make a short layover before getting to their homes. Whatever your opinions on the matter, we can all agree that you don’t want to be walking alone through its streets in the wee hours of the morning. And yet, in the Argentine rock imaginary, the grassroots barrio is much more than that: from the dozens of mentions in rock nacional songs to the genesis of legendary underground venue Cemento, Constitución is a bastion of Buenos Aires’ underground culture, inspiring generation after generation of up-and-coming artists. This evocative imagery is very present on Para No Morir’s “Constitución,” a hazy indie rock number about reinvention and self-acceptance that draws from shoegaze and Americana in equal measure. Whether it’s the mention of “dark and frozen floors” or the mantra-like “it’s best if you don’t look at me” that repeats at the end of the song, PNM succeed in painting a bleak yet fascinating landscape for all those lost souls who, much in line with the neighborhood’s spirit, find comfort in total and utter chaos.
Club de Haters – “Tu Mente Te Miente”
It’s fine. Was it fine? You’re fine: the repetitive, self-questioning, meager reassurance that makes up the mantra of us over-thinkers. Club de Haters, our latest uncovered gem from the south (Trelew Chubut) has taken these existential anxieties and sweetened the swallow. As the opening track on their debut EP La Catastrofe Es Existencial (The Catastrophe is Existential) “Tu Mente te Miente” sets a tone of meandering guitars and solid indie melodies. Their sound reminds us of a young Las Ligas Menores, with nothing overly complex, or overtly experimental. But there’s a polish and a simplicity that allow us to focus on the relatable lyrics of everyday lived experiences. An anthem we repeat to ourselves: “it’s [our] mind that lies to [us]. Don’t overthink. It’s your mind that lies to you. Don’t get upset,” (es tu mente que te miente, no pienses más, es tu mente que te miente, no te pongas mal). An absorbable mantra, in these wild times, that won’t stop ringing true.
Chechi de Marcos – “Que Te Hizo Ir”
Chechi de Marcos’s “Que Te Hizo Ir” is a gorgeous little slice of unassuming bedroom pop that, through the course of its placid 3 minutes and 41 seconds, manages to carry a surprising amount of emotional weight, the kind you’d expect from a song with a much grander and ambitious sonic palette. Here we have a simple little ditty punctuated by an unobtrusive backing band, sounding like the soundtrack for a leisurely stroll around the park (remember those?), yet feeling profoundly affecting in its plaintive listlessness. Hailing from Entre Rios, Chechi de Marcos recently made waves by becoming the winner of the #StayAtHome edition of the Camino a Abbey Road competition, wowing the judges with another deceptively understated track, “Casi Nunca Entiendo Nada“. De Marcos will have a long and impressive career, and we’re happy that she entered our periphery.
Emilia Molina – “La Extraña”
Emilia Molina has blown us away with her debut EP Canciones Sobre Vivientes, a collection of vividly evocative songs that are rooted in what we instinctively know to describe as “folk” music, but with a scope and ambition that surpasses the trappings of a genre that too often feels too in love with its own whimsicalness. Opening track “La Extraña” is a story-song about roaming the world in order to find oneself, and the fluidity of the concept of home. It is cinematic in its sound, not only because it literally contains audio samples from the movies Chocolat and Sunset Boulevard but because of the way it builds and moves through its various sections, creating an emotional arc that resembles the three-act structure of a film, its lush instrumental arrangement also underlining its dramatic nature. The entire four-song EP, co-produced by Molina and María Pien, is absolutely fantastic; we invite you to let yourself be swept away by its smart songwriting and ethereal soundscapes .
Las Luchas – “El Primer Movimiento”
Some things take time. Nobody would know this better than Las Luchas (formerly Los Aullidos), who recently changed their name and lineup. But for anyone who worried that the project would lose its legs in the shuffle (we certainly didn’t), their anxiety was misplaced. “El Primer Movimiento” is a noble return for the band, whose grounding power will always be found in the effortlessly melodic frontwoman Maria Morillo. Gradually unfolding over 4 minutes, the song begins with a softly plucked acoustic guitar and military snare rhythms, with Morillo’s silky voice setting the scene. A few Cate LeBon-esque oo’s, a couple well-placed 80s synth sounds, and we arrive to the incredibly playful chorus, which hooks us in for another round. For fans of Deerhoof, The Books, and Cate LeBon.
Melanie Williams & El Cabloide – “Denadie”
Melanie Williams & El Cabloide have been making waves in the underground scene ever since the release of their debut album Comprensión1. Melanie’s vibrant personality always finds a way to translate into her music, and this latest single is no exception. The tune kicks off with Melanie’s trademark chorus-infused guitar playfully riffing as the whole band joins in with a beat drenched in swaggery vibes; it’s an almost nonchalant attitude that permeates the song’s entirety. I love how the track throws the listener a curveball by seeming to end just a few seconds before the 2-minute mark, only to immediately burst into a trippy refrain of the prior chord progressions. This time, however, sliding synth lines and electronic drum beats breathe fresh air into the song, which ends with Melanie singing the chorus one last time as both her reverb-y voice and watery guitar chords bid the song farewell.
Reina & El Principe Heredero – “Porno Soft”
Reina & el Príncipe Heredero is the collaborative project of Reina Ledesma with Joaquín Fernández who could be the next big musical power couple to dominate Buenos Aires. Although both are equally accomplished musicians in their own right, this joining of forces has birthed the release of their self titled debut album with production helmed by Sebastian Mondragon (Estupendo). The standout track in this smorgasbord of lush tunes is “Porno Soft.” It sits between being an 80s synthwave/city pop experience with rhythmic, funky strums adding energetic pulses. Keeping this otherwise chill soundscape moving is the chaotic oscillating drums, theremin samples, and various sample stabs surprisingly providing a soft comfortable bed to lay down on while watching the world go by. Meanwhile, Reina’s vocals etch towards the cusp of neo-soul while also maintaining her own unique cadence, gliding through the rhythm like a siren’s call beckoning you towards the rocky shore.
Bubis Vayins – “Youtube”
“Fumo un porro, después me pierdo en YouTube” (I smoke a joint and then get lost in YouTube). Bubis Vayins knows what you did last night. “Youtube” is the first of three tracks on Las Presencias, Pt. 1. This song makes me feel like an obstinate teenager. No, mom, I don’t want to come eat dinner, and you can’t make me! I’m busy doing stuff alone in my room. Is this…quarantine? The song has two different parts representing two different attitudes. One is a sort of bratty resignation — ah, another night alone, consuming, coping, wallowing in my bullshit; a single voice accompanied by a bedroomy synth arpeggio. Then the song erupts in a signature Bubis Vayins sort of breakdown — a screeching dissonant guitar riff over a pounding kick drum, and the whole crew shouts repeatedly: “Hay planetas donde no llega la luz” (There are planets where the sun doesn’t shine) Just a little something to contemplate, before the compulsory return to that overplayed ego story of another lonesome night.
Camila Nebbia – “Las Manos”
Camila Nebbia has long been one of our favorite artists operating as both a sidewoman and bandleader within the Argentine jazz scene, though her work stretches way past the confines of what is commonly understood as jazz, incorporating elements of experimental postmodernist music, poetry, theater and art music. “Las Manos” is the first single off her upcoming album for ears&eyes records, Aura, and it is a five-minute long sonic journey, with elements of both Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman poking through, assembling and disassembling throughout, stretching the limits of what constitutes a song, and surprising us at every turn.
Maria Codino – “Loop en Mi”
You burnt the coffee; you’ve asked your coworker to repeat themselves three times; you can’t sleep. But that message, with its unticked glaringly not blue checks, is repeating itself over and over. That one person keeps entering your brain at frustrating frequencies. And you want to shake them out of your head. And you want to distract yourself from wondering what they’re thinking. And you want to think about just about anything else. But you become addicted to that loop— a comforting, addicting dose of anxiety. Maria Codino’s second solo release this year loops the same 80s drumbeat over layers of languid pedaled guitars. As the brains behind De Incendios’s composition, her shift to this solo project feels more minimalistic, more intimate, and we are happy to be invited in. While the rhythm keeps us jogging towards resolutions, her soft melodies ease us into the unknowing.
María Pien – “Una Película”
Everybody knows that feeling. Realizing you can’t quite make sense of what’s going on around you, unable to understand the full breadth of implications or discern the best path forward. Whether it’s due to world-stopping event (like, say, a global pandemic) or smaller circumstances of one’s own personal life, we all know that disorienting sensation of stepping outside of ourselves and thinking “this is like watching a movie”. Singer-songwriter María Pien has long been an inspiration for this magazine, not only because of her music as a solo artist and a member of Ruiseñora, but also because of her tireless dedication to lifting up the independent scene and championing her peers therein. Her incredible new track “Una Película,” the title track to her brilliant new EP, explores the disquieting strangeness of that near-dissociative state, the constant questioning of it, and the desire to break free.
Milagros Majó – “En los Bosques de Álamos Plateados”
Swirling strings. A dissonant horn. By the time the brusquely-introduced piano comes in, the singer’s voice already has you hooked. Inhabiting the blurry line between a distant childhood memory and the realm of oneiric symbolism, Milagros Majó’s “En los Bosques de Álamos Plateados” is an exquisite exercise in style. Drawing inspiration from both South American folklore (Violeta Parra and Leda Valladares come to mind) and African rhythms, Majó constructs a timeless macrocosm that’s both intriguing and undeniably her own. Deeply rooted in the music of the Argentine litoral, the track immediately gives off folktale vibes mentioning “silver poplar forests” and “a blue horse galloping on the shore,” a notion that’s reenforced by Majó’s whimsical delivery. Imagine a parallel universe where Björk grew up listening to Mercedes Sosa and you’re almost there.
Less than halfway through, we’re presented with a gorgeous, percussion-heavy instrumental break that seamlessly flows back into the main theme, taking us back inevitably to “las noches de luna entre los álamos” (the moonlit nights between the poplars). Right before dwindling down, Majó changes the scenery once again and takes a brief detour into electronica and ambient music, stretching the fabric of the song in a mesmerizing, echo-laden outro.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amor Elefante – “Mirandesco”
Get your platform shoes ready and bathe yourself in glitter, kiddos — we’re hitting the club. After delivering two exquisite, forward-thinking pop albums (Oriente and Billetes Falsos), the four-piece from Zona Sur surprises us with an absolute banger. As things start to open up in Buenos Aires and with summer slowly creeping in on us, the track brings us plenty of feelgood energy to deal with the dancefloor nostalgia of these socially-distanced days we’re living in. With a title that pays homage to popular electro-pop duo Miranda!, “Mirandesco” is brimming with funky guitars à la Nile Rodgers, lush synths, and a disco-driven beat — a clear invitation to frantically move your body like there ain’t no tomorrow.
Jazmín Esquivel – “Una Mierda”
Every new song released from the upcoming Jazmín Esquivel album brings us farther and farther away from the sound featured on her debut Púrpura, closer to a whole new sound that features elements of neo-soul, synth pop, and post-punk. “Una Mierda” is, to our ears, the best of these recent releases, a slow burner that unfurls its intensity gradually, seething in anger and righteous indignation throughout. It is confrontational, both in its composition and in its lyrics, with Jazmin delivering a verbal smackdown of startling directness: “Te calmas o te calmo yo. De que mierda estas hablando?” (“Calm down or I’ll calm you down. What the fuck are you talking about?”) Simmering guitar lines and a bed of bass synth guide us through this slow-motion depiction of a lovers’ quarrel.
Lea Franov – “Mi Búsqueda Preferida”
Don’t search their name. Don’t search their name. Don’t search their name.
Lea Franov understands infatuation. Or at least, with the second solo collaboration with musician and producer Moreu, she has made clear how comfortable she is to wade in it, in the deep glimmering pools reflecting technicolor and static snow. Is it analog or is it digital? Is it real or is it a projection? Is it Franov’s coquettish yet celestial voice, or a sweetly singing synth? Are we more connected? Or ever more alienated? Is this love? Or is this comfort? And when was the last time that you trembled, really? Don’t search their name.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.