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Written by the La La Lista Music Writers staff: Evy Duskey, Jorge Farah, Jamie Larson, Emilyann McKelvey, Ezequiel Mancilla, Pablo Pérez, Julián Alejo Sosa, Margaux Williams.
Welcome back to La La Lista’s Monthly Music Roundup!
Every month, we bring you our favorite recent releases from the local independent music scene. And this is the last proper Monthly Music Roundup of 2021! In a few weeks, we’ll be posting our picks of favorite albums of the year, and in the new year we’ll be catching up with any relevant December release we might’ve missed. Hey, we’re only human — it happens.
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.
Cirilo Fernandez – “Deta”
The compositional level of Cirilo Fernández is one of the most beautiful things that we have in the local scene nowadays. We had good reason to believe that IKE, his new “solo” release, would be as good as the last three exquisite albums he released with Fernández 4. And we put “solo” in quotation marks because the reality is that he is definitely not working alone. Artists like Emmanuel Horvilleur, Julián Kartún, Julieta Rada, An Espil, among others, put their voice to Cirilo’s insane jazzy adventure. I chose “DETA”, the second tune on the album, partly because An Espil’s vocal performance is completely out of this world. I would also like to know if there is anyone in our audience who can place the dialogue at the start of the track. I know you are out there, so please let us know in the comments.
COLOR – “Ese Diablo”
COLOR‘s “Ese Diablo” starts with the song’s guitar hook placed against ambient noise and some unintelligible muttering. To my ears, the sound is reminiscent of a mid-afternoon subway station, not quite crowded with rush hour bodies, not quite late-night/early-morning taciturn. This is the sound heard by someone on the go; a person running errands, transporting themselves from one part of the city to another, almost on autopilot. This right here, this is when the thoughts come. The doubts about how you handled things, the questions about how they got to be this way, and how it all could’ve gone differently. “Ese Diablo” by COLOR, a chilled-out piece of soulful pop with trap percussion and funky guitars, is the sound of that internal monologue that accompanies us through the working week.
Emily And – “If u don’t, I won’t”
The latest in a wave of rapid-fire releases from prolific songwriter Emily And, “If u don’t, I won’t” plays off the DIY darling’s strengths (clever turns of phrases, catchy melodies, surprising musical turns), while delving into moodier territories than she has tended towards in past releases. The “Passionfruit”-esque bass line and wet percussion gives the musician space to explore her darker, more smoldering impulses, before shifting into an ethereal sonic plane, as if we’re chasing a question left hanging in the air.
FREYJA – “El Escorial II”
Singer-songwriter Valentina Gnucci’s project FREYJA mixes traditional song structures with spoken-word poetry, bringing a sense of adventure to new song. Their new release, El Escorial, is a two-part tour-de-force which brings both sides of their musical identity to the forefront. The first track, “El Escorial I,” puts us in a very specific musical mood, smoother-than-smooth jazzy keyboard backing with thick slabs of icy-cold synth punctuating dramatic pauses in the text, a reading of a poem by Argentine writer Hector Viel Temperley. “El Escorial II,” which we’ve selected here as our pick, turns the aforementioned text and moods into a more recognizable song form. Both tracks are top-notch and well worth checking out.
Inés Mauri – “Manos”
After her first single “Paki,” singer-songwriter Inés Mauri returns with a further refinement of her defiantly queer sound. And though this particular song sounds closer to what most people would categorize as “Argentine indie rock” — the reverb-laden arpeggios, the crushed-glass guitar chords, the persistent synth line — it still feels very much in line with the artistic identity she’s carving out for herself. The presence of indie-rock luminary Paula Maffia (of La Cosa Mostra and Las Taradas) plants this anthemic and emotional track firmly in the world of loud guitars and chanted choruses.
La Maurette – “Submarino”
Victoria Maurette has spent her entire career exploring the concept of change through music. And it makes sense that someone with her background — being born in Buenos Aires, but spending most of her formative years living in several countries including Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States, soaking up many different styles of music — would make music that defies easy categorization. Her new single “Submarino” feels like a chopped-and-screwed version of a track that never existed, a gloriously disorienting malformed pop song with neo-soul, trap, and synthwave elements.
La Piba Berreta – “Brindo Por el Tiempo Que Perdí”
Shortly after releasing her studio debut Golpe de (M)Suerte, La Piba Berreta returns with the haunting “Brindo Por el Tiempo Que Perdí,” an eerie piano-driven track that might as well be a declaration of principles from an artist that seems more comfortable moving on the fringes of indie music than actually trying to “make it.” Starting off with a few minor piano chords, the song quickly introduces all kinds of textures and noises as she delivers one of the most powerful opening lines I’ve heard in a while (at least in the current Argentine independent music scene): “Here’s a toast to all the time I’ve lost/Trying to be a different person.” Two-thirds of the way through, we’re presented with a dancy beat but, before you can start tapping your feet to the rhythm, the song vanishes into the ether and you have to hit the play button again. And again. And again.
Lucy Patané – “Nevada”
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Lucy Patané made a triumphant return this past month with some cut songs off her self-titled debut. From the two songs she released, we chose to talk about the auditory odyssey “Nevada”. The track is perhaps one of Lucy’s most instrumentally dense songs to date, with a feature list full of incredibly talented musicians. The song’s structure is all over the place, with softly plucked acoustic guitar passages backed by crescendoing strings that ebb and flow with every vocal inflection that Lucy expertly puts on display. There’s a certain movie soundtrack vibe to how the song was produced and nowhere does that become truer than by the middle point of the song where what seems to be an Ondes de Martenot gives way to the tune’s climax with blaring brass instruments accentuating a menacing and brash melodic motif that sits somewhere between a cowboy flick soundtrack and an arrangement put together by Johnny Greenwood. We had the pleasure of seeing this song played live in Lucy’s latest live show at Teatro Coliseo and we’re happy to report the song is twice as grand live.
Proyector Escalante – “La Distancia”
“La Distancia” is the new single by Proyector Escalante, the pop/rock duo formed by Argentine Lola Grosz and Venezuelan immigrant Luigi Escalante. With the global fiasco of 2020, the concept of “distance” took on new cultural significance and began to occupy a different space in our collective unconscious. Drawing inspiration from an image we are all familiar with, the epically catchy chorus speaks of empty avenues and silence. But, beyond this obvious literal reference, the song is built around a curious and esoteric poetry that makes us question not only quarantine itself, but our understanding and experience of distance, inside and out. Some distances can be measured within the framework of time and space, and others cannot, and exist as ethereal sensations. This duo’s most noteworthy hallmark is their unconventional vocal harmonies, a way of playing with the distance between notes, which takes us on a paradoxically subtle roller coaster ride throughout the length of the song. Proyector Escalante will give their first post-pandemic concert with a full band on December 10th at Lucille.
Every month, we ask a musician from the local scene to pick a favorite recent release they want to share. This month, we asked singer-songwriter and member of Ruiseñora, María Pien.
Mariana Päraway – “Como Son Las Cosas”
Produced by Lvpe (Lucía Peuscovich). For those of us who interested in the different forms and expressions of song in this part of the world, any new release by either of these artists is already reason enough to get excited about. So their creative team-up promises and delivers. This is the first preview of the album they are making together – Mariana songs produced by Lupe – and it feels both familiar and yearned-for, like a scene on the border between sleep and wakefulness, or deja vu. A soundscape and a possible image for the end of this hyper (dis) connected 2021: “me he dado cuenta que yo sonrío cada vez que vos me escribís al celular” (“I have noticed that I smile every time you write to me on my cell phone.”)