Formed in 1985, they released their first album, Bares y Fondas (Bars and Boardinghouses), in 1986 and have since released fourteen more albums. They are one of the most influential and most-referenced rock bands of the Latin rock world.. The band’s sound is a mix of rock, ska, jazz, folk, reggae, funk and big band. It is also noted for its irreverent and humorous lyrics which often contain political undertones.
This latin band features a mix of ska, jazz, folk, reggae and funk all wrapped up on a big band sound. It is very easy to find yourself dancing even to their saddest songs. Vicentico and Flavio (who wrote most of the songs) were born in the mid 60’s at the beginning of a very politically violent period in Argentina. Military dictatorship took over the government and thousands of college students with opposing ideologies disappeared without a trace. Pregnant women were killed and their babies adopted by the killer’s family, what a ‘noble’ gesture. Many educated professionals went to work every day without knowing if they would return home to see their families. This experience certainly left a mark on the band members who often write about their experiences and stories they witnessed during this process. Their repertoire is extremely varied and their talent left a mark on a generation that found themselves dancing until 7 AM in the morning 😀
Here are my top picks:
This song features a very strong Brazilian Samba undertone mixed with very politically charged lyrics. El matador was released in 1993 but was inspired by the reality faced by political rebels and intellectuals who resisted the brutal authoritarian regime that ruled Argentina in the 1970’s. “El matador kills with words while those who seek to eliminate him kill with bullets. None the less, el matador does not fold, he fights for a better world and is willing to die for it.” It is sort of strange to dance to such a sad song, but the level of energy conveyed by the song makes it hard to stay still.
They use a mix of mambo and Ska to touch upon all kinds of discrimination, from ideological, to gender, to sexual and beyond. Their message uncovers the false narratives that describe a privileged race or caste in an attempt to maintain the status quo of certain elites. This is very widespread in Argentina where racism, antisemitism and homophobia are quite extreme. The video features scenes from the torture chambers used by military generals to ‘extract information’ about subversive plans that may have never existed. The soldier torturing is alternated with a woman dressed in a leather corset, suggesting that the only reason they did this is because they enjoyed inflicting pain. These people were held captive and suspected of malicious intentions only because they dared to speak their mind. Mal bicho (disgusting bug) is that man/woman who spreads separatist narratives that lead to violence and war. Enjoy this awesome tune!
This is another politically charged song that tells the story about a martyr. “When surrounded by police officers in his final hour, Santillán’s words cut so deep into their soul that they leave the police force. The case is closed not to be discussed ever again. However, legend has it that in a dirty forgotten bar a drunken man whispers Santillán’s words while crying inconsolably…”
More good music with Latin Jazz undertones. This is a tale about love and loss. He had it all but could not part with his best friend, the bottle. He drinks himself to death and while barely able to walk he shows up at her door. She welcomes the one night stand, but the cycle seems to repeat itself again without an end in sight. She reminds him that he promised to change, but he can’t, he won’t. It is so dark, so lonely, so hopeless. If only he could turn back the clock, but the only thing that would come back is that memorable night. No! that is not enough.