Para leer la versión en español de este artículo, hacé clic acá.
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, where every month we trawl through email submissions, social media feeds, Spotify playlists, and various ancient scrolls to bring you the very best recent songs from the Argentine independent local music scene.
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 email@example.com. There are no guarantees that we’ll pick it for the column, but we will listen with open eyes and open hearts.
Chechi de Marcos, Luca Bocci – “No Me Quieras Tanto”
Sometimes it happens that you feel a shortage of love, for no reason, or for reasons you don’t understand. And you don’t feel worthy of, or able to, accept the love you carry inside, or from another person either. So, that love affects you in such a way that it, to use a phrase often heard in Argentina, “knocks you off your axis”. But, getting knocked off your axis is quite an experience, don’t you think? What happens there? Will you ever return? In the single “No Me Quieras Tanto” (“Don’t love me that much”), Chechi De Marcos and Luca Bocci join forces to tell this story between the two of them. This song is full of little moments of coffee-bitter dissonances and strawberry-sweet resolutions woven subtly among Chechi and Luca’s croons. The manifestation of precise details in production and lyrics (and the union of these elements) in just the right moments lend the structure of this song an emotional dynamic that feels uniquely complete — whole. A deceptively simple track that reaches its climax through what seems to be a series of bridges that connect toward a final chorus in which the whole concept unravels…y ya!
Diciembre de 2001 – “Deshacer”
It’s remarkable how a niche genre like shoegaze, which arguably hit its stride with the release of My Bloody Valentine‘s impressionistic masterpiece Loveless in 1991, is still going strong almost four decades after its inception in the late ’80s. This influence is a no-brainer on Diciembre de 2001‘s “Deshacer,” an explosive piece of music that uses all the trademark elements of the genre—reverb-drenched vocals buried deep in the mix, a brutal sway of guitar textures, propulsive drumming, and minimal lyrics—to convey a sense of romantic frustration and disappointment. The personal project of drummer Jano Castro, Diciembre de 2001 has been steadily releasing music via their Bandcamp since July 2020.
Haien – “Cables”
When you endeavor to cover the best recent releases of the last month, one of your worst nightmares is having a really good release slip completely past you. Well, we’re nothing if not human here at La La Lista, and so we must come clean: this one slipped completely past us. Olas is the exciting sophomore album by singer-songwriter Haien, and it caught us completely by surprise. After spending some time as the lead singer for legendary synth-pop group Adicta, Haien has honed her skills as a pop songwriter with a laser-focused album of richly melodic and idiosyncratic tunes. “Cables” is a highlight, going from verses that draw influence from 1990s trip-hop as well as a very French approach to melodicism, to a more assertive chorus that features sudden jabs of brass, giving way to a gorgeous and elegant middle eight, wrapping up with a gently plucked Spanish guitar. The song is a journey, as is the rest of the album. Don’t let the fact that it came out in May dissuade you from giving it a listen. That one is fully on us.
Isla Mujeres – “Esperándote”
Staying within the realm of silky-smooth nighttime jams, La Plata’s own Isla Mujeres announces their return with “Esperándote,” the opening track to the trio’s new album Correr Adentro. “Esperándote” opens with a whirly synth line immediately putting the listener in the right headspace: there are human voices distorted beyond recognition, there are echoey guitar chords, there are sudden sound glitches that pop up across the stereo field, there are impossibly deep basslines, and there are lyrics about the all-consuming anticipation before seeing the person you’re missing. Yes, the song is about romantic longing, which sounds like it could lead to a romantic or heartwarming tune. But the vibe here is feverish, obsessive, and – thanks to the aesthetic choices in the production – a little scary. A great introduction to one of the year’s best albums.
Jazmín Laurenza – “Ya Los Conozco”
Jazmín Laurenza’s latest single “Ya Los Conozco”’ is a sensual and groovy exploration of neo-soul with some trap-infused percussive sounds peppered through its almost three-minute runtime. Thematically, “Ya Los Conozco” is a distillation of the “false start” that some romantic relationships go through; when only sexual tension seems to be the only thing keeping it afloat. Regardless, the protagonist in the song still feels like even though they’ve had some good times, it still feels wrong. The synth and bass combo really carry the song, as Jazmín’s layered vocal harmonies and intertwining melodies turn the last minute of the track into a sort of mantra, reflecting on how outside influences can really skew the perspective of what actually goes on when two people are trying to build love from scratch. Spoiler alert: It’s TOUGH.
Las Estelas – “Irreversible”
Las Estelas is a multimedia project by Eugenio Chuka Estela, encompassing both visuals and music. When an act describes itself as a “multimedia project” it very often tends to mean “our songs kind of suck, but here are some interesting images to look at.” Thankfully, that is not the case with Las Estelas, whose previous songs (“FINAL”, which matches sorrowful cellos with a hypnotic drumbeat; and “ADN,” a mood piece that predominantly features horror-film strings) are as interesting as they are ambitious. New release “Irreversible” is probably their most accessible song so far, featuring deep grooves, 80s-inspired synth lines, and thick slabs of distorted guitar. While “Irreversible” certainly showcases a catchier side of the project that we hadn’t really heard before, the project’s overall aura of mystery and menace remains intact.
Los Subtítulos – “Domingo Negro”
We owe Los Subtitulos an apology. Despite our best efforts to cover the best new local releases every month, the last few singles released by the veteran quartet (Tobogan Andaluz, Pyramides, Cuerpo) have somehow passed under our radar. We suppose it’s fitting for the indie noir band (a term that our art director just coined in their honor): these songs slipped into our psyche, wreaked quiet devastation, and then snuck through the back door and into the night. You don’t need us to tell you that their new album is good. But it is. Kick off your existential crisis with “Domingo Negro,” spy on your neighbors to “Pulmon de Manzana,” dance your way into a bleaker age with “Futuro.” You can’t go wrong here. Dealer’s choice.
Mi Amigo Invencible – “Impecable”
“Impecable,” a standout track from Mi Amigo Invencible‘s stellar new album Isla de Oro, is filled to the brim with wonderful little details that give it its beautifully off-kilter feel. Everything from the choppy piano part, the slide guitar that pops in and out to complete musical phrases, the little bits of percussion that creep up throughout, a fuzz guitar lead that directs the song towards a resolution, even sudden dramatic string samples. I love it when a band takes the time to really build out their arrangements with random weirdness like this. When coupled with with lyrics about hesitation, romantic longing, and hiding one’s true emotions, “Impecable” manages to sound both tightly wound and remarkably laid back at the same time. A wonderful entry by a group that’s become one of the most interesting acts around in Argentine indie music.
Tres Cuervos – “Un Esclavo Decide”
Post-punkers Tres Cuervos have an interesting history of reformations and hiatuses, one of which actually lasted 10 years and seemed to spell the end of the band itself. However, they reformed yet again in 2018 with a new line-up and this led the group down the path of recording their latest EP Procastinar. Despite this gap, the band has come back stronger than ever with tight songwriting, which can feel anthemic while also maintaining a dark tone. This is particularly noticeable in “Un Esclavo Decide”. The track starts with strong shuffling drums which act as a driving force alongside the oscillating synth which really displays some Depeche Mode-esque vibes. Each element seems to delicately sit in place without feeling overwhelming and the voice of Javier Recarey certainly embodies a very gothic operatic tone.