Music has always been a world commodity. This is part three of a multi-part series showcasing some sounds from around the world.
Our musical journey for the casual listener continues to the crisscross the globe. We shall start today’s journey in South America.
This tiny nation (of 41 million people) has given us such gifts as a wide selection of top-end wines, dance crazes such as the tango, and Manu Ginobi. Also, Argentina has a vibrant and diverse musical scene, musical ranging from the traditional Latin America flares to the assorted hodgepodge of music that makes today’s list. We will start with an 80’s synth pop band, whom I can only assume named themselves in homage to one of the columnists here on the site, Richter (The T…I will say cultural differences for the extra letter? I mean, why is Louis, Luis? They add and drop letters all the time.) I’m going to start with this live performance, which is nothing short of bizarre. This show appears to be live at 3:30 in the morning. Who has a live show at 3AM? What type of crowd are you trying to appeal to, the meth population? Regardless of the reasons for being on at that hour, the host looks like a mix between Dean Cain and Nick Lachey. The guitarist has what looked like he wanted to do a Mohawk, but just looks like he fell asleep on one side. The keytarist is wearing like welder’s goggles…well, let me pause for a second, there IS a keytarist, period, and to wrap up this band, the lead singer sort of looks like Andy Kaufman. Here they are performing their single “Turra.”
For a moment, I was really excited about this band. Weird bands in general are rather amusing. Any band can just get on stage, look bored, and play their instruments, but a band that has showmanship and appear to not only want to amuse the audience but themselves, that is a good time. However, I checked out one of their other singles, Abrol de la Ciencia (Tree of Knowledge), and was disappointed to find out they were just an electronica band.
If you are more into the classic garage rock sound, preferring bands like the Strokes, Jet, The International Noise Conspiracy, and the Hives, then let me introduce you to their Argentinian counterpart, Los Peyotes. The trademark garage sound is exactly the same, they just happen to sing in Spanish. Here they are with their single “Bdaaa!!!” off their album Garage o Muerte.
Every once in a while I will forget that we are a modern society and the world is not as diverse and people give it credit for. Every country I have ever been to, I have seen the Starbucks; I have seen the McDonalds; I have seen the Coca Cola, and I have seen the iPhones. So, when I learned that somehow the 90’s New York City hardcore scene has somehow just hit the SAP button and landed in Buenos Aires, I was sort of surprised. It is my own fault however. To compare, first we have Argentinean band D.A.J. (Diferentes Actitudes Juveniles) with “Buenos Aires Hardcore.” NOTE: Song starts 48 seconds in.
And then here is NYC’s Billy Club Sandwich with “Suckerpunch.” Ah, just look at all that energy, look at all the passion, all the crowd participation, look at all that…love and respect for your fellow human beings. Is there any difference, really? Part of me misses these simpler times, whereas the other part of me is just glad to have been able to survive intact.
Staying in the similar arena, En Nuestors Corazones (In our Hearts) is a post-hardcore band in the same vain as Trivium, Like Moths to Flames, and I See Stars…I swear, metalcore/post-hardcore/screamo/whatever you want to it, have some really dumb band names. Again, the sounds exactly the same, but you hit the SAP button on your remote by accident. Instead of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, you get Carlos Cabrera and his ill-fated Spanish Announce Table. Are any of those still commentating? I am so dated with my wrestling references. I wonder if this New World Order gimmick is going to take off. Anyway, here they are with their single “Pesadillas”.
Villanos are a “punk rock band” in same way I would call Good Charlotte a “punk Rock Band” The reason I wanted to highlight this song in particular is…this video makes absolutely no sense. Let’s start with the washboard player- doesn’t it look like all his facial has been glued on randomly? His eyebrows look to have been put on upside down. Wait a second, why is there a washboard player in this band? Now let’s look at the passengers on the boat. First, What is up with the guy in the sunglasses and the Bruce Vilanch haircut? What is his deal? What about the guy sitting by himself in the front row, alone? Did his scarf single handily scare away the plethora of attractive ladies in the boat? The more I watch this video, the more questions I have at the end of it. Seriously, what is his deal? It’s not even scarf weather! There are girls in sleeveless dresses there. I mean, what kind of life do you have if 99% of your body is warm, but your neck is cold. That’s no way to live your life. Without further ado, here they are with “Chau Corazon”:
You know what, you could tell me that guy is like a super billionaire rocket scientist and I wouldn’t be surprised. You can also tell me that he’s one of Argentina’s biggest mass murders and I wouldn’t be surprised either. It took me a minute to figure out what the song sounds like, but then it hit me:
Now is a good time as any to throw a curveball into the mix and find a band that somehow took a wrong turn. When one mentions “Celtic Metal” or “Folk Metal”, they are obviously the heavy hitters of Scandinavia or Germany, however the fine folks of the band Skiltron never got that memo. I guess bagpipes and kilts and memories of the foggy mores of…Buenos Aires can invoke the same sound. What would have made it weirder would be if it were in Spanish as well, but fortunately(unfortunately ?) for us, it is in English. As for the sound, it actually holds up pretty well compared to their bigger counterparts. Here is “Bagpipes of War” by Skiltron:
Moving to the local hip hop scene, I found a video that, like all others, kind of confused me. The premise seems simple enough, it is an all-star collaboration of a dozen or so rappers rapping against racism, a very noble cause, albeit kind of depressing in these times, but why does the guy at 3:43 look like a mix between Murdock from the A-Team and Eddie Money and sound like David Lee Roth? Why is Chuck D there? He’s…not…from…there? The Beat reminds me of Dilated Peoples’ “This way”. Anyway, for a variety of local artists, here is “Aca Estamos”:
Looking for something more standard? More slo-mos of blowing smoke, more shotgun sound effects, more B-roll of their hood? Then i have just the group for you, Los Neris del Docke.
Lastly, I guess the band Los Redondos were the biggest rock band to come out of Argentina, and I assume they have a big important historical impact and they’re wonderful and all, but there are other legitimate music blogs to tell you that. I just want you to listen to this song and tell me that this song is NOT a theme song to an 80’s sit-com. Tell me you couldn’t substitute Night Court or Bosom Buddies’ theme with this song?
Armenia is of those countries that, geographically speaking, isn’t the it place for any reason. Whether it be tourism, culture, or really anything for that matter, Armenia is a tough go. Bordering Azerbaijan and Iran, Armenia is probably best known for its genocide and war with Russia during their succession in the early 90s. It is estimated that there are some 8 million people of Armenian descent scattered across the globe as opposed to the 3 million people who actually live there. So, for this one, I’m going to heavily rely on Armenian-Americans…which there are a couple of heavy hitters in this category.
System of a Down, for better or worse, has been one of the last unique metal sounds to find mainstream success. When they started to gain popularity there was not a sound similar to them. They would genre hop not from song to song, but even within the song, it would be all over the place. They do have a trademark sound, so I shall not mention much more about them, so here they are with “Sugar”:
Clinging close to the coattails of System are fellow Los Angeles rockers Viza. If you’re wondering why they have a similar sound to that of Serj’s solo albums, well…nothing escapes you captain obvious. Viza is on Serj’s record label and if I’m not mistaken managed by Serj himself. They’ve opened for his tour, he’s guested on a few of their tracks. Ah, now’s it’s so clear! Here they are with “Trans-Siberian Standoff”:
I actually heard of them like 7 years ago or so when they had the far less fortunate name of Visa. I mean in this age of interwebs and anything and everything available at the edge of your fingertips, it takes an extreme talent to be completely anonymous online. Any attempt to google them was futile. But now that they’ve flipped the S, they’re a tad bit more accessible. Here is their cover of Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)
Armenian Space Station is a four piece instrumental rock band. I don’t really have much to say about them other than the guitarist sort of looks like Horatio Sanz. It’s an 8 minute instrumental, it is pure background music…which don’t get me wrong is not necessarily a bad thing. I’m sitting at work, I’m trying to be productive; this is a good way to just have some nice ambient music in the background without having the temptation to sing along. This is another band that has made its way to my iPod thanls to this article. Here they are with “Art of Rebellion”
And here is a second song, a much faster tempo and a much shorter song (clocking in at 3 and a half minutes), this is “Escape Velocity”
I have spent enough time of Los Angeles based Armenian band, now it’s time to find something actually inside of Armenia. We start with the band Hayard, who, if you are a fan of Dream Theater, you will find very little difference with this group. One thing I did find odd, look at that band picture, why does it look like someone’s dad is in the group? “Oh man, billy just quit? That’s a bummer, but joey’s dad, he’s cool for like an old dude. I guess he a fill in for now.”
The Beautified Project is a band labeled as rock and roll, but it really seems more of adult contemporary as there is very little rocking here. It’s like rock music if it were featured on Nick Jr. I’m sorry, it’s has a very watered down sound. I mean, if the keyboards overshadow the guitars, it’s not rocking. But then again, don’t listen to me, I have already shown that I have horrible taste in music, I am just making you, the casual listener, aware of their existence. Here they are with “Butterfly”:
We have already had one strange combination with Argentinian Celtic, so let us counter that with some Armenian Reggae! The Reincarnation are, in fact, a reggae band, who perform reggae music in their native Armenian. Here they are with “Ser (Love”):
“Rock” band Dorians might be the hottest thing now in Armenia. They have won a couple of local awards, they have competed in the Eurovision contest (which I have explained earlier) and have opened up for a lot of big acts. They also fall under the watered down category; it’s not really rock but more of ballad music with an occasional misplaced “guitar sound. Here they are with their hit single “Fly”:
Moving to the local rap scene, there are a few rappers to come by, and their sound has a distinct alt-rap laid back sound to it, but then again, it’s all in Armenian, so for all I know they could be rapping about pimps and ho’s. MC Hrach is first up with “I’m Hayastan.” I do like the beat though, with the traditional flute and all.
Sencho is an Armenian rapper who and either A) has one of the sickest flows that rival that of Twista or Eminem in his latest single or B) he’s just saying absolutely nothing. Take a listen to this song Street Shit (18+). His flow echoes that of Big Pun’s “Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn’t do diddily” RIP big Pun. Again, I am impressed, maybe (?), by his skills. The video would be more impressive if it were done in one take, but I am concerned about all the cigarettes these guys are smoking. Lung cancer is a serious issue. Either way, this song is worth a listen.
Last up in the hip-hop front is Mets Hayq, who gets a couple of guest appearances for him including someone who looks like they’re 13, and some random guy who raps in Engish. Also, why is Mr. Hayq carrying around garden clippers for part of this video? And why is there a guy rapping in the scream mask? What year is it ? Anyway, here he is with “Mez Mi Nakhandzi”:
…and the most famous singer of Armenian descent? Of course it’s Cher. I could go in about her long and storied career, but nothing more needs to be said about her dulcet tones.
As always, hopefully you enjoyed the column and who knows, maybe there’s something that catches your ear…stranger things have happened. Thank you for reading…and Vandals, prove me wrong!