An Excursion to Argentinian Punk and Rock

When travelling in South America you get to a point where you simply get too much of Romeo Santos and his Merengue compañeros, and to be honest my pain threshold isn't that high, so this happened very fast. So what better idea as to hide in your headphones and listen to some punk and rock, or maybe even punk rock? I sat down with local Argentinian punk rock fans and we exchanged some of our favourite bands over beer and compiled a list of notable Argentian punk and rock bands. The result is this blog entry.

For all the impatient, the bands covered in this article:

  • Almafuerta
  • Argies
  • Attaque 77
  • Bulldog
  • Divididos
  • El Otro Yo
  • Intoxicados
  • La Renga
  • Las Pelotas
  • Los Piojos
  • Sumo

The following list is ordered alphabetically:

Almafuerta from Buenos Aires

Genre: Heavy Metal
Who are they: The band was formed in the middle of the 90's by ex-V8 members. In 1995 they released their debut called "Mundo Guanaco".
Why listen to it: Almafuerta play honest and fast music. For me it was and is quite complicated to understand the lyrics, mainly because Ricardo Iorio, the lead singer, tends to sing very fast, and they don't use a very simple language. But this not being the topic here they are one for every heavy metal record collection.
What to listen to: Get a grip of the re-release of the 1995 classic "Mundo Guanaco" from 2006 by DBN if you can.

Argies from Rosario

Genre: Punk Rock
Who are they: Probably the first band which comes into mind when you think of Argentinian punk and you are from Germany, Austria or Switzerland. Why? Because Die Toten Hosen introduced them to a bigger audience in Europe by booking them as a supporting act for a tour in Austria. They are active since 1999 and their roots are the British punk of the 70's mixed with ska and reggae elements.
Why listen to it: They mix styles, they have serious lyrics (Falklands war, social problems in Argentina, and so on) and most of their songs brim over with energy.
What to listen to: Grab "Quien despierta", released in 2008 by ANR Music & More if you want a full record.

Attaque 77 from Buenos Aires

Genre: Punk Rock
Who are they: In contrast to the name they were formed in 1987 in Buenos Aires. They were very popular during the second great depression in Argentina (and still are) and a lot of Argentinians know them and their lyrics by heart. They mix British punk with reggae and ska parts.
Why listen to it: They are very critical towards their country and this is reflected in their lyrics, so expect left-winged paroles. This may sound boring, but believe me, with all the Spanish lyrics it makes for a good combination and you won't regret listening to a record by them because it shows you a different side of Argentina.
What to listen to: "Caña!", released on Wolverine in 2002 is a good first record to get to know them.

Bulldog from Rosario

Genre: Punk Rock
Who are they: The band was formed in 1989 and within the first ten years gained mostly underground success. Excessive touring with fellow punk rock artists in Argentina and South America openend them to a wider audience.
Why listen to it: Bulldog are easily one of my favourite bands from Argentina, like no other punk band they understand how to combine smart lyrics with catchy melodies. The lyrics are not always easily understandable by Spanish language beginners, but very rewarding if you try because they are socially critical.
What to listen to: Be sure to get a copy of "Repolucion", released by Pinhead Records in 2009 if you want to get to know the band.

Dividos from Buenos Aires

Genre: Rock
Who are they: Dividos were formed in 1989 from what was left of Sumo after Luca Prodan passed away. In their early days they were requested to play old songs by Sumo, but they soon began recording in the US and defined their own style and got away from simply being known as the band "after Sumo".
Why listen to it: Ricardo Mollo and Diego Arnedo know how to mix genres, this results in experimental rock music with funk and new wave influences and cryptic lyrics. Their repertoire includes covers by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Led Zeppelin. They've won several awards in Argentina for best rock band and best rock song.
What to listen to: Try to get a copy of "La Era De La Boludez", released in 1993 by Polydor if you're looking for a full record to get to know the band.

El Otro Yo from Temperley

Genre: Alternative
Who are they: El Otro Yo, literally translated to "The other you", recorded their first demo tape called Los Hijos de Alien in the late 80's, beginning of the early 90's. They shared the stage with artists like the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Incubus and Silverchair.
Why listen to it: They sing about teenage problems, lots of the lyrics are somehow simple but really catchy. Don't just listen to them because of the music but also because they sing the most clear Argentinian Spanish. They're often compared to the Pixies, Nirvana, etc., and the sometimes depressive and youth centered lyrics underline that if you get into the band in more depth.
What to listen to: "Traka-Traka", a re-release of the record released after the first demo tape in the 90's is available from DBN and is a good starting point.

Intoxicados from Buenos Aires

Genre: Rock'n'Roll
Who are they: Formed in 2000, mainly as a spin off from the band Viejas Locas, they quickly gathered a solid fanbase around singer Cristian "Pity" Álvarez.
Why listen to it: The band mixes punk rock, blues, reggae, funk and hip-hop styles.
What to listen to: Try to get a grip on "Otro Dia en el Planeta Tierra", released by Soy Rock in 2005. The singer wins the price for the funniest hairdo and the whole band for funniest Spanish lyrics. Give it a try!

La Renga from Buenos Aires

Genre: Hard Rock
Who are they: La Renga are a hard rock band which performed live for the first time in 1988. "Nacido Para Ser Salvaje", a successful Spanish-language cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" was one of their songs which made them known to a wide public.
Why listen to it: The lyrics are, as of most Argentinian bands, politically inspired and discuss the recent struggles of the country, i.e. for independence, for democracy, against corruption and the falklands wars, which are still a big thing being discussed.
What to listen to: Grab the self-titled record, released in 2007 by Universal Distribution if you want a full record.

Las Pelotas from Córdoba

Genre: Rock
Who are they: Las Pelotas were formed after death of Sumo singer Luca Prodan in 1987. In 1994 they released their debut record "Mascaras de Sal" on Distribuidora Belgrano Norte (DBN). They played as an opening act for the Rolling Stones in Argentina.
Why listen to it: They play a mix of Argentinian folk & rock en Español, but also have heavy pop and reggae influences.
What to listen to: Grab the debut "Mascaras de Sal", released in 1994 by DBN if you want a full record.

Los Piojos from Buenos Aires

Genre: Rock
Who are they: Los Piojos are a latin rock act formed in 1987 in the greater Buenos Aires area. They became increasingly popular during the 90's filling arenas and small stadiums. They disbanded in 2009 but are still very popular across Latin America and Europe.
Why listen to it: They combine rock and local traditional music, e.g. tango, murga and candombe. But they are also no stranger to reggae, Caribbean rhythms, classic rock and even alternative influences. Part of the so-called suburban rock explosion in the mid 90's they are known for the tight, very personal and memorable songwriting by their frontman.
What to listen to: Try to get a grip on "Azul", released by Universal Music Latino in 1998. It is a superb introduction to the talent of this band.

Sumo from Buenos Aires

Genre: Post-Punk
Who are they: Sumo was an 80's underground post-punk act. Headed by Luca Prodan, who is oringinally from Italy and who lived in London and Manchester before moving to Argentina, they introduced British post-punk to the Argentinian music scene. When they disbanded they formed two new bands: Dividos and Las Pelotas (see above).
Why listen to it: Despite their short-lived activity they are probably one of the most influential contemporary Argentinian music acts. They combined different styles from reggae to punk rock and up until this day it is impressive how influential they were under a repressive military dictatorship.
What to listen to: Be sure to get a copy of "After Chabón", their third and last record, released by CBS in 1987 if you want to get to know the band.

Thanks goes out to all the contributors, you know who you are!