Coming to Argentina and want to immerse yourself in the local sounds? You’d better hurry. Argentina has some excellent musicians and groups, but the music industry in Argentina is like everywhere else — fickle and unpredictable. Remember when the Beatles were considered a ‘passing fad?’ The top group may disappear tomorrow or today’s bums could be tomorrow’s superstars. You never know with music. Here are the best acts on the Argentine scene you need to know.
An Argentine folk ensemble established in 1948 still haunts the alleys and smoky bars of Argentina and Buenos Aires’ version of honky-tonks. Formed in the northern province, Salta, the musicians took their name from a local songbird — the chacarero. The original group consisted of Victor ‘Cocho’ Zambrano, Carlos Franco Sosa, Aldo Saravia and Juan Carlos Saravia. The group now consists of Juan Carlos Saravia, Eduardo ‘Polo’ Román, Ricardo Francisco ‘Pancho’ Figueroa and Facundo Saravia.
Having released nearly 50 records the group has concentrated on classical Argentine folk music: zamba, cueca, gato, and chamame. The group must be doing something right: a species of rodents were found in La Rioja Province and named after the band — the Chalchalero viscacha (rat). The group left the recording studios and big stage arenas in 2003, but they can still be heard. Listen carefully when you stroll the foggy cobblestones in Barrio Boedo.
Alma y Vida
Another important Argentine musical group that’s been around is Alma y Vida. Formed in the 1970s, when former jazz musicians turned to rock, Alma y Vida found their work as pioneers in Argentine jazz-rock — think Blood, Sweat & Tears, the group acknowledged by the band as their primary influence in their developmental years.
Once they decided on a style, Alma y Vida put out their debut record, a single, ‘Nino de Color Carino‘. The group then signed with RCA and released their first album. The band has stayed popular in not-so-rock circles, especially the trendy clubs, but the strength of their sound has reached crossover fans who still gather at small venues to listen, rock and sway in the nostalgia mood of yesterday.
An Argentine all-girl pop group, Bandana was formed in 2001 following the global trend created by the Spice Girls. Their debut album was released by Sony BMG Records in 2001 with the hit single ‘Guapas’ going four-times platinum. Despite being snubbed by critics and artists, Bandana has remained Argentina’s best-selling act since 2001. In the middle of Argentina’s great depression (1998-2002) over 250,000 tickets were sold to watch them perform in the Teatro Gran Rex for a total of 85 concerts within the venue.
On January 16, 2017, the band released their first original song since 2003. The next day, da Cunha announced she was leaving the band and the remaining members decided to continue as a three-girl group and not replace da Cunha.
Karamelo Santo is a Latin rock band from Mendoza, Argentina which plays regularly in Buenos Aires. Formed in 1992, their first album, La Kulebra – ‘The Snake’ – was released in 1995. The group has released eight more records since and the single, ‘Que No Digan Nunca’, is their best-known song.
The band presents a mix of rock, jazz, salsa, folk, rap and reggae. Although the lineup has morphed over the years, the co-founders, Guillermo Gluzman and Mario Yarke, have always remained.
Some musicians are so well-known that they just have to use one name. Elvis was one. Cher is another, as is Madonna. In Argentina, it’s Axel. Teenage boys want to be like him. Teenage girls want to marry him. Women of all ages grow quiet at his performances as he slides effortlessly into one of the many romantic ballads for which he’s best known.
As the top finalist for Argentina’s Gardel Music Awards, six nods went to Axel who sings traditional, soaring romantic pop. His love stories have connected in Argentina and his performance is assisted by powerful videos which tell a story. Axel’s Tus Ojos, Mis Ojos, (Your Eyes, My Eyes) won album of the year.