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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.
Welcome to a new installment of La La Lista’s Monthly Music Roundup. It’s now the start of August and we’re still of the belief that living in Argentina feels like you’re riding the weirdest rollercoaster ever. Thankfully, it’s a rollercoaster with medialunas, and great music.
Remember: we do this (just about) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no guarantees that we’ll pick it for the column, but we will listen with open eyes and open hearts.
Aromo – “El Ricuerdo”
No matter what TikTok might lead you to believe, there is more to Kate Bush than “Running Up That Hill.” Take, for example, the title track on 1989’s The Sensual World, in which she heavily drew upon Molly Bloom’s erotic, closing soliloquy in James Joyce’s Ulysses (published 1922). Flourished with eerie-sounding bagpipes, it uses the quintessential instrument of Joyce’s homeland to give the synth-heavy track a warmth and depth beyond its years.
In 1928, halfway across the world, the Argentine poet Isabel Cascallares Gutierrez composed a series of poems for the book Poemas Serrano. Lovingly excavated almost 100 years later, the folk trio Aromo has put several to music for one of the most stunning installments in modern Argentine folklore in recent memory. Using traditional instrumentation and exquisite, top-of-the-line production (fans of Juana Molina will surely appreciate the looping, chanting backing vocals), the 7-song album is a must-listen for fans of Duo Salteño, Mercedes Sosa, and Atahualpa Yupanqui. Title track “El Ricuerdo” sets the tone, and while we don’t claim any direct influences, the meandering Bandoneon line can’t help but remind us of Kate’s more Celtic turns. Perfect for a grey, rainy afternoon, with a perfectly cebado mate in hand.
Gente Conversando – “La Intimidad”
Starting off with a few flute stabs and a rhythm section reminiscent of Yo La Tengo‘s “Autumn Sweater,” Gente Conversando‘s vibey “La Intimidad” sets the tone for their highly anticipated full-length debut, the aptly-titled Gente Conversando Vs La Industria Musical. Four years after the release of their first EP Los Nuevos Ídolos de la Juventud (2018), the band still seems determined to hone in on their niche brand of indie rock; one that uses a ’90s-soaked pastiche of genres, über-porteño imagery, and almost stream-of-consciousness lyrics to distill the absurd experience of being alive in this day and age. Halfway through the track, you can almost visualize frontman Guille Masse on one of those old Telefonica public phones trying to do some shady business (“Hola. Sí, ya tengo eso. Lo de siempre“) before the song transitions into a heady instrumental that locks in with the initial groove. The sound of a door creaking open and Masse’s cordial salute hint at the end of the song, letting us know that Gente Conversando have finally awoken from their slumber with yet another piece of terrific, nightmare-inducing music.
Gi Pegnotti – “Astrología Barata”
Whether you put any stock in auras, energy crystals, the tarot, or the various flavors of astrology, it’s hard to deny that these practices — which for a time seemed to have been written off as baseless pseudoscience and quackery — have made a comeback. Our collective turn towards magical thinking as a kneejerk reaction to the hegemonic rationality of neoliberalism is a real thing. But whether you believe in their legitimacy or not, it’s undeniable that these practices are also used as scapegoats and easy targets to avoid personal responsibility, and as facile readings of a world too clouded with nuance. Singer and songwriter Gi Pegnotti‘s new track “Astrología Barata” explores this topic, using krautrock-inspired beats and fuzzy guitars to disassemble the many tools we’ve created to make our own realities (and our interpretations thereof) more comfortable. “Vengo a decirte cosas buenas” (“I’m here to tell you good things”) she sings in the song’s dreamy opening verse, before the beats kick in and the vicious take-down commences. “El retrógrado sos vos, Saturno no te mira.” (“You’re the one who’s in retrograde, Saturn is not watching you.”) A brilliant little slice of sardonic synth-pop for a confused age.
Los Peyotes – “El Hombre de Dos Cabezas”
For over two decades now, garage-punk stalwarts Los Peyotes have been wreaking their particular brand of havoc on stages all over Buenos AIres and beyond. Their new release Vírgenes is not exactly a musical detour for the group — Los Peyotes are not exactly the type of band one listens to for sharp musical detours — but it does showcase the group at its most limber, most playful, and most energized. Their lyrics still occupy that same gloriously trashy space they’ve become known for, turning their noses up and propriety and championing bizarre protagonists who revel in their various deformities. “El Hombre de Dos Cabezas,” for instance, is a rollicking cut off of Vírgenes that sounds like the Argentine cousin to Elvis Costello and the Attractions‘ “Lipstick Vogue” run through the filter of the group’s fascination for circus freaks and sci-fi creatures. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s ridiculous, and it’s unmistakeably Los Peyotes.
Lucia Tacchetti – “El Modo”
Lucia Tacchetti has made a career out of building songs that weave intricate synth patterns, dense beats, thick layers of vocal samples, and various electronic flourishes in a way that sounds breezy and unforced. This is partly to do with her choice of sounds — her beats never feel too dense or overpowering, but rather like the microbeats that beep, fizzle, and crackle throughout various corners of her song’s sonic landscapes — and partly to do with her songwriting. Her new song “El Modo” is a good example of how Tacchetti’s compositions skew towards a kind of bright-eyed optimism, not just in lyrical matter but in overall (for lack of a better word) vibes. A much-needed balm for relentlessly cynical times.
Lucrecia Carrizo – “Regando Canciones”
“Regando Canciones” is the second single off of Lucrecia Carrizo‘s recent release Arena. At under two and a half minutes, it’s a gently plucked acoustic folk song about reminiscing through various moments in a relationship (romantic or otherwise). Sunlight providing a temporary respite from the cold of winter, sharing an afternoon of storytelling, and other little moments that feel enormous and charged with meaning with the benefit of hindsight. “Regando Canciones” is a lovely ballad that unfurls with each sweetly melancholy verse. It doesn’t have grand ambitions; rather, it beautifully captures the feeling of looking back on these little snapshots of time. It’s amazing what you can do with just guitar, vocals, and a dash of cello.
Nahuel Briones – “Todos los Días Son Míos”
One of Nahuel Briones‘s most layered and sonically narrative songs dropped at the very end of July. “Todos Los Días son Míos” starts off an electronic dance song with a sinister twist, as the beats start incorporating more abrasive peaks of distortion. Different musical leitmotifs from the initial angular beat that begins the song start showing up during the middle point of the track’s 5-minute runtime. The track’s climax features the electronic beat alternating with face-contorting heavy metal riffs. A deeply unsettling sendoff features a deceptively angelic synth-driven melancholic wave goodbye, before a full minute of brown noise ensues. After such a solid back catalog, it’s clear that Nahuel Briones is cooking up a strange brew.
Rosamonte – “Hey”
As a fan of 90s punk rock, I’m partial to anything that heavily features palm muted chords, rapid pull-offs, octave slides, and melodic verses about eating ice cream. To be honest, I don’t know much about Rosamonte — from what I can tell, “Hey” is the first and only song they’ve released, and all I could find on them was a Spotify bio that referred to the group as an “anti pop pop club,” whatever that means — but I love their lo-fi approach and youthful energy. The group may lack refinement when it comes to their playing — they sound extremely excited to be playing, with the pent-up energy sometimes being a little too much for the group to fully stay in time — but that has its own kind of charm. Big fans of this energetic piece of pop-punk melancholia.
Saramalacara, Muerejoven – “FOMO”
A visceral display of heavy crushed beats with trashy treble brings horrorcore sensibilities to the newest release from the infamous RIP Gang featuring other local trap royals such as Taichu and Oddmami. “FOMO” is a serving of exactly what RIP does best; the tight production provides the perfect bed for Saramalacara and Muerejoven to accent each beat with such percussive swagger that their nonchalant delivery is almost mocking you. The overall sound makes me imagine this would be the soundtrack to a brutal snuff film. It feels like the wind-down of a hard night of after-parties. The couplings of excess, no sleep, and a fear of missing out on what will be a memorable moment as you walk past your corner kiosco for a bottle of Gatorade as pensioners watch you with disgust.