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Buenos Aires Music Scene (1)

First post of a series about Buenos Aires Indie Music scene. Thanks to Carlos for writing this. Published on June 29 2013.

  by Carlos

If I had to describe Buenos Aires’ independent scene with one word it would be variety. The contrast that you find from the modern skyscrapers in Puerto Madero to the colonial houses of San Telmo can be easily compared to the contrast in music.

Younger of musicians are still struggling with the presence of a strong past generation that succeeded not only locally but internationally, names like Charly Garcia, Fito Paez, Andres Calamaro (just to mention a few) still are very active in the scene. Independent musicians have developed a local crowd that shows themselves as loyal and supporting, the main problem is that Buenos Aires has an overpopulation of bands (the offer is greater than the demand), which creates lots of competition and leaves many musicians out, but also impulses the quality of the sounds artists compose in the city.

Probably the best way to approach indie music is by exploring the many indie labels that exist, they have taken a position where they are not only dedicated to produce an album but also work on creating a system for musicians to play around the city, usually this labels organize shows that bring together some of their artists, creating a collaboration circuit and a possible exchange of followers. Labels like “Estamos Felices” can be seen more as a collective than a company. Venues appear and disappear just like everywhere, but the city keeps holding some well established places from the very mainstreams like Niceto Club to more intimate bars like La Oreja Negra or Sitio Plasma, however the truly discovery is a very small independent kind of venue that feels more like someone invited you to listening to music at their place, spots such as La Playita or La Casa del Arbol really makes you feel close to the artist.

I have bumped into some interesting proposals here, musicians seen to be very curious about the combination of sounds and stiles. Morbo y Mambo captured my attention the moment they started playing, just like their name stands, the “Mambo” makes you dance and the “Mormo” (morbid) sends your mind to another universe, they describe themselves with the phrase “against the genre and in behalf of the groove”. To please acoustic tastes there are groups like Julio y Agosto, combining humor and nostalgic, listening to them carries a mix of feelings provided by violins, flutes, guitars, trumpets and many more instruments. On another angle, with a very simple line up but strong ideas, are three guys called The Ovnis, they come as a new wave band; the fusion of a sound that could be described as a contemporary impression of the 80’s movement adding a dynamic that immediately spreads to the public makes The Ovnis a band worth listening.

If there's something all independent artists from Buenos Aires have in common is a record store that dedicates to them. The place to sell albums when you’re a “do it yourself” artist is at the show, but Buenos Aires offers another choice; Mercurio is a record store that works exclusive for independents without a genre distinction, you can bring your work to the store and they will sell it trying to keep the price the lowest, there is tons of stuff to discover and the art works are hallucinating, they impulse musicians to put their work online so people can listen to it and then get it at the store creating a direct link between the artist and his public.

This city has many things to offer and this is just a very small part of it, other bands correctly on my watch are: La Familia de Ukeleles, La Practica de las Llamas and Amor Elefante.

Links for listening: