Argentine rock

Argentine rock

The moment when 'Argentine' rock began as a distinct musical style can be traced to the middle 1960s, when several garage groups and aspiring musicians began composing songs and lyrics that related to local social and musical themes. Rock & Roll itself however began in Argentina almost a decade before with the arrival of classic American rockabilly; the major impulse to the music was the British Invasion. During that time until the rise of Argentine rock, local groups recycled the hits of English-language rock & roll. Since then, Argentine rock started a continued and uninterrupted evolution through the 1970s and into the 1980s, when it turned into an international genre. Today it is widely considered the most prolific and successful form of Rock en Español, and one of the most important non-English language forms of rock music in the world. In Argentina and even in Uruguay it is known as "Rock Nacional" "/rok.nasjo'nal/", literally National Rock (not in a political way at all but as a local movement).

An almost unique trait of Argentine rock is its uncompromising stance to sing rock only in the Spanish language. Rock music is made in many languages around the world, but in most cases it shares the lyrical creative pen with English. The Argentine rock movement was truly one of the first non-English forms of rock to be commercially successful "outside" its own nation. To this day it is exceedingly rare that Argentine rock bands will sing in a language other than Spanish, specially in order to gain popularity, as it happens in other nations and languages, and even within Latin America and Spain.

1958−1964: 'Prehistory' of Rock & Roll in Argentina

Rock and Roll music emerged from the United States from a Rhythm & Blues base, gaining international popularity in the 1950s with artists like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley (who visited Argentina in 1958), awakening the interest of several Argentine artists with ideas to replicate their sounds.

An important phenomenon was the Mexican rock bands from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Groups like Los Teen Tops, Los Blue Caps, and Los Locos del Ritmo, who created Spanish language lyrics to the hits singles of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and more. As many artists of the time have stated, such Mexican bands were influential in their early development into composing rock music. [ [ The last interview of Juano] (Spanish)] In his book "Argentine Progressive Music", Litto Nebbia tells reporter Miguel Grinberg: "I joined a band in 1961 in Rosario, Santa Fé, and there like elsewhere existed many local groups influenced by the Mexican rock groups of the time." [ [ Argentine Rock II] Musical Currents, Argentine Rock, Miguel Grinberg, Vox Dei, Los Jaivas, Polifemo... (Spanish)] American bands were the source of the music and Mexican bands the interlocutors, who then exported the sounds to the rest of the region.

Argentine garage bands sprung up in the wake of the early days of rock and roll. Most notable among them was Sandro y Los del Fuego, whom recorded a very decent series of Spanish language covers of rock and roll hits from that time, and attained commercial popularity. Sandro would soon embark on his own contemporary pop standards career that would make him popular internationally.

1964−1975: The classic period

British and Uruguayan invasions

The first few years of rock music in Argentina were confined to cover bands and imitators. In 1964, as most of the world, Argentina was shaken by The Beatles phenomenon. [ [ A Very Brief Story of Argentine Rock] (Spanish)] Los Jets were the most popular Beatle-imitators in the country, recording several of the major early hits from the British band. In general, the British Invasion was far more transcendental in the fledgling Argentine rock scene than the earlier wave of US rock and roll.

There were two developments unique to Argentina which may help to explain, in retrospect, why the country would become a very important rock producing nation.

The first is what historians call a parallel development curve with the United States in certain aspects of culture. Both countries were the destination for millions of Europeans, and their musical heritage were heavily influenced by Pan-European folk and traditional marches. These similar musical infusions yielded related results in both: a grass-roots rural guitar-based musical tradition, becoming Bluegrass and Country in the US, in Argentina Folklore and Pampas music. Country music is an important pillar of Rock & Roll. In Argentina folklore (at that time Nueva canción was sweeping Argentina), was increasingly crossing over to popular musical trends by the late 1950s.

The second was the curious yet fascinating Uruguayan Invasion of 1964-1965. Inspired by British bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, many young musicians in Montevideo, Uruguay began to emulate their sounds. Two bands in particular, Los Shakers and Los Mockers pinched the styles of the Beatles and Stones respectively, singing in English as well. [ [ I love Uruguay] -Joshua Benton] In the mid-1960s, as the British Invasion was at its height, Uruguayan bands began a similar rise to fame in Argentina. Record labels began rapidly signing Uruguayan rock bands to promote in Argentina (others include Los Walkers, Los In, and The Seasons). Argentine television shows like "Escala Musical" were also a springboard for many of the bands' popularity. [ [ The Beat Years] ] The bands from Uruguay benefited by moving to Argentina, with a far larger consumer market and more developed music industry.

Los Shakers stand out in particular. While Beatlesque, their sound was not an ordinary or rough copy. They were in fact superior than many of the English merseybeat bands of that era. Added to this was the quality of their own compositions. They began making live presentations and television appearances in Argentina and overseas. Los Shakers made a conscious decision not to follow the development of Spanish rock lyrics in Argentina by 1965, and thus eventually their popularity dropped. Today considered one of the better Beat bands, Los Shakers albums are sought by collectionists. "La Conferencia Secreta del Toto's Bar" is seen as one of the best psychedelic rock era albums. [ [ Los Shakers] ]

Late '60s Música Beat

By 1965, rock music was making rapid developments in Argentina. While the British and Uruguayan Invasion was still strong, other currents would begin cross-pollinating proto-Argentine rock. On television, several shows such as "Ritmo y Juventud" and "El Club del Clan", with singers like Palito Ortega, Violeta Rivas, Chico Navarro, and Lalo Fransen, were introducing Sunny Pop, which owed equal amounts to merseybeat and to Argentine romantic pop. [ [ Brief History of Argentine rock] (Spanish)]

But it was in the underground where the most fundamental figures of early Argentine rock would emerge. In former Jazz bars like "La Cueva" or "La Perla del Once", bohemian elements like Moris, Pajarito Zaguri, Javier Martinez, Miguel Abuelo, and Tanguito would gather in the lazy days of mid-60s Argentina to exchange ideas. Los Beatnicks, of which Moris and Martinez where members, began the transition that would slowly take Argentine rock from imitator to a more creative state (while still following UK trends mainly). Forming in quiet beaches of Villa Gesell, they recorded the first Spanish language single in 1966 called "Rebelde". [ [ Chapter 2] History of Argentine Rock (Spanish)]

The definitive breakthrough of Spanish-language, original material rock would be up to the band Los Gatos. After playing in "La Cueva" for a few months (and members of the band being arrested on a regular basis by police, for political reasons), the band released two singles in 1967. "La Balsa", a sunny track vaguely reminiscent of The Doors, was composed by Tanguito and sold 200,000 copies. The following year saw the first publication of "Pinap", a rock magazine, and the founding of the first Argentine rock label, Mandioca. In 1969, four major concerts of so-called "música beat" ("beat music") were held: the "June Sunday" concerts, "Festival Nacional de Música Beat", "Festival Pinap" and "Festival de Música Joven".

In the wake of Los Gatos, an explosion of bands emerged including Luis Alberto Spinetta's Almendra, the most influential band of the late '60s, and Manal, the first successful blues-oriented group in Spanish. The three are considered the founding trilogy of the Argentine rock movement. None of these groups would have an extended history, in fact most disbanded by the early '70s. The early Argentine rock scene was characterized by a lot of line-up changes in bands, and even member swapping between bands, or members of different bands meeting and forming new groups. However, the shuffles provided for a lot of experimentation and creativity.

Almendra would split with Spinetta forming Pescado Rabioso, and the remaining members forming Color Humano and Aquelarre. By 1970, Vox Dei and their unique mixture of hard nosed rock with subtle melodious undertones refreshed the movement. Their album "La Biblia" (The Bible) is one of the seminal works of the early '70s, even getting an unusual stamp of approval by the Catholic Church. In that same year, the first B.A (Buenos Aires) Rock festival would be the first showcase of a rising sub-genre that would dominate the first half of 1970s Argentine rock. [ [ The Beginnings] ABC of Argentine Rock (Spanish)] A new group of musicians was to bring new ideas to the mixing bowl of early Argentine rock.

That the original creators of the movement were now passing the torch to another batch of bands and musicians was a historically enormous development: it would set Argentine rock apart. While in other countries the original wave in the wake of the US or British rock invasions never sustained itself completely and quieted down, in Argentina not only did it continue, it evolved into its own realm and style more independent from rock music of the United States or Britain. From 1965, Argentine rock, with a solid line of ascent and evolution, became the most important rock movement in the Spanish-speaking world. [ [ The History of Rock en Español] by Gregorio Montiel Cupello (Spanish)]

Acoustic and heavy rock

By the turn of the decade the first real diversification in Argentine rock began taking place. In reality, the split had been brewing even before, as some bands began playing much heavier music, with the world of rock entering the Heavy metal era. Among them, Pescado Rabioso, Vox Dei, and Billy Bond y La Pesada del Rock. But out of all of the heavy rock bands, Pappo's Blues would become the most influential heavy metal band and blues artist of its era in Argentina, and also acclaimed overseas (even playing with B.B. King in New York City). Another important but overlooked heavy rock act of the period is El Reloj, but they would drift towards progressive in the following years.

Conversely, the first B.A Rock festival (now promoted by Pinap magazine successor Revista Pelo), had many of the artists and bands that would lead the Acoustic rock movement: Gustavo Santaolalla forming Arco Iris, Leon Gieco's rock-folk hybrid, Sui Generis and the start of Charly Garcia's music career, Raul Porchetto, and Pedro y Pablo, among other bands. These groups not only turned to Argentine folk for inspiration, they began experimenting with South American musical styles as well; their lyrics becoming increasingly poetic with concerns about nature and the human condition. [ [ The Beginnings] ABC of Argentine Rock (Spanish)]

The proliferation of these bands and their increasing popularity, the early '70s being the height of the hippie movement in Argentina, led to the Acusticazo of 1972. Several acoustic rock bands would gain popularity from their performances there, including Vivencia, Pastoral, and Alma y Vida. The behemothic success of the Acusticazo was a turning point, Argentine rock would enter a new era of increased greater appeal. [ [ National Rock during the Dictatorship] (Spanish)]

In that year also, Tanguito was killed when he was hit by a train. Conspiracies about his death abound, including that he committed suicide and even that he was thrown on to the tracks by police. A man dealing with heavy drug usage, others contend he simply might have tripped. [ [ The Acusticazos] (Spanish)] The 1993 motion picture "Tango Feroz" ("Wild Tango"), would tell the life of Tanguito to new generations and the movie was an international hit.

As the 1970s progressed, acoustic rock continued as the most popular style in the country, with the above mentioned and other bands dominating the charts and musical tastes. And for the first time in its history, Argentine rock began spreading overseas: Sui Generis and Pastoral attained some popularity with counter-culture hippies in Latin America, and even Japan (Pastoral had an EP edited there). [ [ Chapter 9] History of Argentine Rock (Spanish)] But a major shift was at hand.

ui Generis farewell concerts

Sui Generis began shifting from their classic acoustic rock to a more electric and visceral sound. Also, stirring in the Argentine underground were new bands with a radically different sound from either acoustic or heavy rock: influenced by some of acoustic rock's more experimental works (such as Arco Iris and their phenomenal "Agitor Lucens V" with its world music influences), by Tango music and also by British progressive rock. This would be the blueprint of Argentine progressive rock that would bloom into the apex of the movement in 1975. As that year began few could foresee what a watershed it would become not just in Argentine rock history, but the country's too.

Charly Garcia and Nito Mestre decided it was time to quit Sui Generis, almost as if they felt the winds of change. And so their final two concerts at the Luna Park Arena took place on September 5 of that year, the most important acoustic rock band saying good-bye to 30,000 people. [ [ Sui Generis] (Spanish)] Historians have come to see the Sui Generis farewell concerts as the end of the 'Classic' Argentine rock era. Acoustic rock was passing into history: bands dissolved, changed their sound, and those that remained lost popularity and became only cult followings. Argentine progressive rock was on the rise, and so was the political repression to freedoms of expression.

Also, several bands would leave the country for greener pastures in Europe, mostly Spain, among them Moris and Aquelarre. The dictatorship there was almost at an end, and Spanish rock was in its infancy with bands like Triana, Tequila, and Asfalto. Interestingly, in Spain rock bands composed their songs in English. It was not until the arrival of Argentine bands with their Spanish language songs that local bands massively switched to singing in their own language, forever changing the development of rock music in Spain. [ [ The History of Rock en Español] by Gregorio Montiel Cupello (Spanish)]

The Classic era of Argentine rock music was completely over by 1976. As this year began, Argentine rock became far more sophisticated, grandiose, and conceptual. A few acoustic bands would continue having moderate success, including Pastoral, and Nito Mestre y Los Desconocidos de Siempre. But it was the beginning of the period of symphonic and progressive rock dominance.

1975−1984: The intermediate period

Progressive Rock

As early as 1973, the band Contraluz combined rock with progressive and folk tinges. They would be an influential group in the years leading to the rise of symphonic and Argentine progressive rock. It would create some of the most enjoyable and brilliant albums in the history of the music, acclaimed nationally and by progressive rock fans worldwide. Perhaps the first major act of symphonic/progressive was Crucis. Their music began attracting attention in the underground, and so they started getting bigger performing venues. As change swept Argentine rock in 1975, their music was rapidly rising to popular musical tastes. Their compositions were strong and dynamic with surprising breaks, and the interplay between the electric guitar (often spectacular wah-wah) and keyboards captivating. The rhythm-section sounded powerful and adventurous. [ [ Crucis] -Your Ultimate Prog Rock Resource]

Espíritu, who formed in 1973 but had roots since 1969, would go on to be an internationally followed group in the latter part of symphonic rock's heyday. The first album "Crisalida" is cited as their best effort, with beautiful and alternating compositions and changing atmospheres (from mellow with acoustic guitar to up-tempo with heavy electric guitar), lush keyboards and some vocal harmonies. [ [ Espiritu] -Your Ultimate Prog Rock Resource]

Formerly heavies El Reloj turned to prog with 1975's self-titled album. Their sound has been pinned down as vaguely consonant with Uriah Heep’s mystic and proggy sound. [ [ El Reloj] -Your Ultimate Prog Rock Resource]

A symphonic band that would have a great year in 1976 was ALAS. Their music was even more intellectual and unorthodox. ALAS would feature artists such as Rodolfo Mederos and Pedro Aznar. Luis Alberto Spinetta would begin his third band Invisible later in that year. Their symphonic sound tinged with tango would bring critical praise. A band that showed a lot of promise that never materialized was Reino de Munt. Formed by Raul Porchetto, it featured a young Alejandro Lerner, and musicians like Gustavo Basterrica and Frank Ojsterseck. [ [ Chapter 9] History of Argentine Rock (Spanish)]

Charly Garcia formed his first post-Sui Generis band, La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros, which began Garcia's dwellings in symphonic and progressive. Other symphonic and progressive bands of renown would be Torax, Ave Rock, Anacrusa, and Materia Gris.
Arco Iris meanwhile continued expanding on their symphonic-folk rock and were joined by veteran Chilean band Los Jaivas, whom were escaping the Pinochet dictatorship that had overtaken their nation in 1973. The two along with Contraluz were the main exponent of the sub-genre.

On March 24, 1976, the democratic government was toppled by a military coup. It opened one of the darkest political chapters in Argentina's history, full of repression, fear, and missing citizens. Argentine rock by no means would be immune to the military crackdown, and would suffer the worst censure period of its history. Rock was seen as subversive by the nation's authority figures, who began to clamp down on the music. In a 1976 speech, Admiral Emilio Massera denounced rock musicians and fans as potential subversives and repression of them began in 1977. Before the end of the decade, rock had gone increasingly underground.

In spite of this however, the music would continue its development against the odds. Along with the plethora of symphonic/progressive bands, heavies Vox Dei and Pappo's Blues continued to sustain their popularity during the period. Yet another heavy metal band, Plus, made their debut in '76 and enjoyed success through the end of the decade.

Symphonic Late 1970s

Argentine rock continued its symphonic, so-called 'music hall' sound through the end of the decade. The '78-'79 period was not the most prolific period for rock, as the progressive bands continued with their blueprint, and symphonic rock bands actually turned slightly commercial.

At the height of symphonic rock, Crucis was joined at the top by the popularity of Espíritu; the two are generally seen as the most well-known outfits of the symphonic rock period. La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros efforts were impressive as well, their first album featuring many of the elements of good prog: intricate ensemble work, good individual performances, great melodies, dynamic contrast, and interesting arrangements. [ [ La Maquina de Hacer Pajaros] ] 1977 was a year of separation and endings: Crucis would disband at the end of the year. In heavy metal, Pappo's blues would see their near seven year run end. Aquelarre would return from their Spain stint, but following a tour run went their separate ways.

But the year would show a glimpse at the future: a band from La Plata called Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, with their comical costumes and nervy fast tempos, started performing. 1977 was a year of one-year wonders: Soluna (Gustavo Santaolalla's 2nd group), with their electric folk, and Orion's Beethoven, a progressive band that played since 1969 but had their moment of fame eight years later. Neither band sustained their popularity into 1978. [ [ Chapter 11] History of Argentine Rock (Spanish)] Bubu with their album "Anabelas" was 1978's one-year wonder.

And even more bands ceased to be. After two successful albums that featured several would-be classics of the era, La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros hung up, as did Invisible, leaving as a legacy two of the greatest albums in Argentine rock's history: "Invisible" and "Jardin de los Presentes". Pastoral, one of last acoustic groups still successful, split by 1978, as did ALAS. With the country gripped by World Cup mania (Argentina was host in 1978), and the Disco music craze, rock music suffered the worst drought since its inception. The media was openly calling out 'the death' of Argentine rock.

Throughout its history, Argentine rock had the strange fortune to get exactly what in needed at the right time, fueling an even greater expansion in the music. Sandro y los del fuego in '63 with their Argentine rockabilly igniting inspiration; the Uruguayan Invasion of 1965 that proved the commercial viability of non-US or UK bands; the massive hit of "La Balsa" by Los Gatos in '67 showing Spanish language rock could be appealing to the masses; the "Acusticazo" of '72. In the drought days of 1978, what Argentine rock needed was its first successful 'superband'. It got it in Seru Giran.

Serú Girán

Charly Garcia, Oscar Moro, David Lebón, and Pedro Aznar managed two major things with Serú Girán. The first was to create a sound that was trully distinctive from anything in English-language rock. The second was their ability to massively achieve popularity in the lower and upper classes with their style of rock. Serú Girán could be 'brainy' yet unpretentious rockers simultaneously.

Partly because the group lived for three months in northeast Brazil, the band's first album shows clear influences of Brazilian music, mixed with symphonic rock and jazz. But the band's first live concert to support the album created one of the strangest anecdotes in Argentine rock: the fans did not understand the strange costumes the band used (entirely in white except for Garcia with a black jacket and shoes); and then when they played the song "Disco Shock", a satire poking fun at disco music (which was at its height in 1978), people thought they were really serious. Whistles and boos would follow and what should have been a great concert turned into a fiasco, with fans clamoring for Sui Generis songs. People failed to get the message and Serú Girán did not get their point across too well either. It would all fuel wild speculations about the member's sexual orientations, a PR nightmare at the time. [ [ Serú Girán] (Spanish)]

But the group bounced back with a vengeance with their 2nd album "La Grasa de las Capitales". It was well received by the specialized press, and would cement their status as the most popular band of their time. [ [ Pelo Magazine #122] (Spanish)] Serú Girán's third album "Bicicleta" (1980) was tepidly received at first, but in time would be considered the band's best work. Both albums departed from the symphonic rock of the first LP, the music turning more visceral and 'simple' with less arrangement and pomp. Serú Girán would not be isolated in this trend, as slowly Argentine rock was writing the final chapters in its symphonic and progressive period.

War and Winds of Change

The nation was still in the grip of a dictatorship as the 1980s dawned, even as repression had eased somewhat by then. The start of the decade continued to feature Seru Giran, now with their less pretentious sound, at the top of the charts. Vox Dei entered their 3rd decade in rock, a virtual first for any local band, and Leon Gieco's popularity as a solo artist was on the rise.

One of the last progressive bands of importance would be Tantor. They were less symphonic and far more prog-experimental, with jazz as a major support. Their first eponymous album was a hit in the scene, and the band would continue till the mid 1980s as one of the last bands of the progressive era. [ [ The Progressive and Symphonic in the Argentinean] ]

Seru Giran went touring in Brazil in 1980, where their reception by fans at the Monterrey Jazz Festival in Rio de Janeiro was so overwhelming that the organizers requested that they perform again, the next day, but on the main stage with jazz-rockers Weather Report. There, Pedro Aznar met Pat Metheny, and Aznar gave him some cassettes with his own works. Seru Giran returned home, edited "Bicicleta" and gathered 60,000 fans in La Rural back in Buenos Aires chanting "no se banca más" ("it isn't bearable anymore", alluding to the dictatorship). That year they had also performed in concert with Spinetta Jade, Luis Alberto Spinetta's latest project and the other popular rock group of the early 1980s. It was a great event in which both bands eventually played some songs of each other's repertoire. [ [ Seru Giran] (Spanish)]

Spinetta Jade was a blend of jazz and rock that escaped the trappings of symphonic rock, something that was unseen in Argentina at that time. Towards the last two albums, the sound became a little bit more "pop", and embedded with electronic elements (samplers and synthesizers with "artificial" textures). [Luis Alberto Spinetta Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia]

Seru Giran released their fourth album "Peperina" in 1981 and promoted it on tour, but by the end of the year Pedro Aznar decided to leave the band because he wanted to study at Berklee. (When he was there, by the end of 1982, he was called to join his loved Pat Metheny Group). Seru Giran (which at the time was even planning tours in Europe), had a strong sendoff on March 6-7, 1982, when they performed for the last time at the Arena Obras Sanitarias. A memorable moment was the performance of the song "No llores por mi Argentina" ("Don't Cry for me Argentina", which has no relation to the "Evita" musical theme); a song full of symbolisms. It was not only a farewell for Aznar, and for Seru Giran, but for an era in Argentine music, and history. The timing was beyond befitting.

Argentina's economy was in full recession in 1982, and discontent with the military government was rampant. On April 2, the world would awake yet again in the 20th century to the horror of war. After a season of death and destruction in the South Atlantic in which both sides suffered sunken ships, aircraft blown from the sky, and hundreds of young lives cut short, the United Kingdom regained control over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). The popularity of the Argentine military government hit then bottom, and democratic elections were called shortly after.

1984−1990: Argentine Rock goes International

New Democracy Sound

The war would be a dark chapter in Argentine history, but would have the paradoxical effect of creating one of the most fortuitous circumstances in the history of any rock genre.

In May of '82 the "Festival for Latin American Solidarity" brought together all the great bands of Argentine rock. It was a festival in support of the troops overseas, and also a veiled protest to war, and a call for peace (at first the musicians feared appearing for risk of being portrayed pro-war). This event was the final stepping stone of Argentine rock in becoming "the" dominant form of music in the country. At the same time, English-language rock was wiped out from radio play. The programmers had to fill the voids with something, and that was with Argentine rock. [ [ Ayer Nomás (Only Yesterday)] (Spanish)] This created the opportunity of exposure to countless underground bands. It would set the foundations for the explosion of rock in the mid 1980s.

In the latter days of symphonic rock, a great number of new groups started popping seemingly out of nowhere. In reality, these were bands influenced by post-punk, new wave from the US and Britain, and by the more symphonic and less progressive side of Argentine rock. Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, who had started in 1977, were growing a larger following on a monthly basis. In 1979 in La Plata, Federico Moura would form a new-wave pioneering band called Virus. In Buenos Aires, three young men influenced by the advent of post-punk in Britain started exchanging ideas, and decided to form a band with the name Soda Stereo.

In 1980 friends who were enthralled by the wave of US and UK punk formed the band Los Violadores. Miguel Abuelo, a founding figure of Argentine rock in the 60s, would return after a decade in Europe and form Los Abuelos de la Nada, which happened to feature a young man by the name of Andres Calamaro. Someone named Miguel Mateos, after talking to Freddie Mercury, won the opportunity to open for Queen in Buenos Aires with his new band ZAS. At the local pubs in Mendoza a pop-rock act called Los Enanitos Verdes appeared. An Italian of Scottish background named Luca Prodan arrived in Argentina to fight his heroin addiction, worsened by the death of his friend Ian Curtis of Joy Division. Prodan would form Sumo.

From the "Festival of Latin American Solidarity" emerged solo artists that would go on to delve into a more adult oriented form of rock and pop music, with the Argentine youngsters of the '60s now mature adults. Some of these names were Juan Carlos Baglietto (who was optimistic about a young musician from Rosario named Fito Paez), Alejandro Lerner, and Celeste Carballo. In heavy metal, Pappo founded his new band Riff, and newcomers V8 and La Torre would emerge. New "funny" rock bands like Los Twist, Sueter, and girl-riot Viudas e Hijas de Roque Enroll crashed to the scene infusing Argentine rock with needed dosages of humor and self-deprecation. [ [ ABC Rock Argentino] (Spanish)] On the goth side of rock, La Sobrecarga would carry the torch.

And for the first time in Argentine rock history there was a "revival" of an earlier style, with Acoustic rock making a comeback on the back of reunions by Almendra and Manal. On the other hand Charly Garcia and Luis Alberto Spinetta embarked on their solo careers. Moris returned from his period in Spain. Meanwhile, Argentina entered a new era with the inauguration of Raul Alfonsin as president of a fully democratic nation. Rock bands would no longer be harassed and even censored by the powers-that-be, and freedom of expression flowered. Songs critical of the military that were in prior years censored, some with exquisite lyrical poetry and allegory, were released during this time: "Tiempos Dificiles" by Fito Páez (sung by Juan Carlos Baglietto), "Maribel se Durmió" by Luis Alberto Spinetta, "Sólo le pido a Dios" by León Gieco and "Los dinosaurios" by Charly García. A more direct criticism of the military government that ended in 1983 came from the Argentine punk groups like Los Violadores (singing songs like "Represión") or seminal heavy metal bands like V8.

Finally, segments of Argentine rock moved away from the music hall and 'solemn' era, full of very heavy lyrics and concerns with domestic issues. It started to lighten up and turn more irreverent, and to focus on mondane concerns such as money, love, and sports. This would make the music and lyrics far more accessible (and commercial) to international audiences.

The stage was set for the boom of Argentine rock in Latin America and beyond.

Argentine Invasion

The "Cafe Einstein" was opened in 1982 by Omar Chaban (who would end up arrested for the fire in another club 22 years later, see "Fire at Cromagnon Nightclub"), featuring some of the first presentations of three underground bands: Sumo, Soda Stereo, and Los Twist. Both Sumo and Soda Stereo featured slightly different line-ups in their early days, with Sumo having an English girl, Stephanie Nuttal, at drums. She returned to England when war broke out between her country and Argentina. [ [ Chapter 21] History of Argentine Rock(Spanish)] Also in '82 Charly Garcia released his full-album solo debut, the acclaimed "Yendo de la Cama al Living".

"One could feel the winds of change" in 1983 Argentina. A cliché perhaps, but at no time more appropriately used. Everything was optimism about the future, the country, and music. Even technology cooperated with the palpable change: it was the year the compact disc was introduced. And 1984 was the year of female rock: Patricia Sosa and her heavy rock band La Torre were voted best band of the year and "Solo quiero Rock and Roll" best single, a first for a female lead rock act. Another female vocal band, Los Twist, and their superbly catchy tunes about nothing were also doing very well, but the group suffered a blow when Fabiana Cantilo left.

As the early 1980s progressed it became clear that the new generation of rockers were not like anything before: Los Violadores pioneering punk in Latin America; Virus oxygenating rock with their new-wave sound; Sumo's punkish reggae-rock growing a fanatical cult (Luca Prodan sung mostly in English, which reduced his band's radio exposure yet their fame expanded unabated); and Soda Stereo the buzz of the underground. ZAS introduced the phrase "rock en tu idioma" (rock in your language). [ [ Miguel Mateos] (Spanish)] Los Abuelos de la Nada and newcomers G.I.T. found quick success outside Argentina, a preview of things to come.

By 1985, year in which Los Fabulosos Cadillacs formed, several bands began receiving consistent airplay across Latin America. Argentine rock began "climbing" the continent up the Andes: first Chile, then Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela. Zeta Bosio of Soda Stereo said of this: "We would leave Argentina and tour in Chile, Peru, etc, and in some places they had never heard a live rock concert before... they said that such music was for another world and wouldn’t work... now it's all joy seeing how it did work and that it now has its own legs..." Argentine rock bands were the first to be signed to multinational record labels for distribution across many nations. [ [ The History of Rock en Español] by Gregorio Montiel Cupello (Spanish)]

The trickle became a flood as 1986 approached, and by the start of that year it had become a continental phenomenon, reaching Central America, Mexico, and crossing the Atlantic to Spain, even as far Italy, France, and Germany. Los Enanitos Verdes with their energetic pop-rock that appealed through music lines gained previously unseen popularity across borders. The Cadillacs, with their ska-rock with a heavy Latin infusion, turned instant rock stars across Latin America and eventually worldwide. Rata Blanca, a heavy metal band formed in 1987 from the ashes of influential early '80s rockers V8, also conquered the Spanish-speaking world. As did Charly Garcia, Fito Paez, and now solo artist Miguel Mateos. 1986 was the climax of an unprecedented wave of international success for Argentine rock.

It would help to revitalize rock movements in Mexico and Spain for two reasons: 1) It would create a buzz and excitement in the local rock scenes; 2) it proved to producers and record labels in those countries that "Rock en Español" could work and make them money. In Mexico, Argentine bands were being marketed by media giants like Televisa as "rock in your language". [ [ Remembering La Onda through the literature of José Agustín and La Onda roquera (rock’n’roll in México)] by Roberto Avant-Mier] Its success changed the landscape of the Mexican scene: it laid the groundwork for Mexican rock in Spanish to itself expand overseas. In Peru, the Argentine invasion was a catalyst that brought that country's own movement more to the mainstream. [ [ They Are Peruvian and they are good] Peruvian Rock (Spanish)] In Chile, where a few outstanding bands existed even prior to the Argentine boom (see Los Prisioneros), the flood of rock music coming from their eastern neighbor would fully energize and inspire the local scene, and Argentine rock's influence continues to this day. [ [ Celestes, azules, blancos, rojos y amarillos] Influence of Argentine Rock in Chile (Spanish)- by Mauricio Fredes] The current boom in Colombian rock can be traced to the 1980s, with most Colombian rock acts citing the Argentine invasion groups as a direct influence. [ [ Rock y Pop] (Spanish)] In countries like Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia, the effects were even more profound.

As 1988 began, with the most important Argentine bands (Soda Stereo, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Los Enanitos Verdes, Rata Blanca, Charly Garcia, Andres Calamaro, Miguel Mateos, Sumo, Virus) on constant tour of Latin America, Europe, and even countries in Asia, the globalization of Argentine rock and pop was complete. By this time the invasion had began to 'quiet' down in comparison to the prior three years, but its legacy of opening the doors of Argentine rock to massive success beyond its own borders remains to this day.

Soda Stereo

Soda Stereo was arguably the most successful "and" influential rock band in Spanish ever. Even as a few other more recent rock acts have sold more albums (and thus are technically more 'successful'), the influence of Soda Stereo and its music, style, and even "business acumen" is undeniable. They were also the first Spanish-language band to use all aspects of their popularity to the fullest: their music videos, aesthetic, philosophy, and more. In the beginning they were deeply influenced by new wave and bands such as The Police, Television, and Talking Heads, and by symphonic rockers Luis Alberto Spinetta and Aquelarre.

With their first album, the self-titled "Soda Stereo" (1984), they reached national success with joyful and ironic lyrics, and a sound that combined pop, reggae, ska, and new wave, but were accused of being superficial and frivolous. The second album, "Nada Personal", strengthened the popularity of the band, with instant classics such as "Nada Personal" and "Cuando Pase el Temblor" opening the doors of the Latin American market; but 1986's "Signos" is arguably their masterpiece. The musical arrangements and the lyrics reached a subtlety never heard before from the band's production. They embarked in an extensive tour through Latin America that brought the live album "Ruido Blanco". [ [ Artist A-Z Biography: Soda Stereo]]

With the tour supporting "Signos", Soda Stereo became international superstars. The band would continue their worldwide success well into the 1990s, and evolving their musical sounds unlike almost any other Rock en Español band. In fact, they would lead the way in the changes Argentine rock would experience as the 1990s drew near.

Late '80s: Loss and Experimentation

The year 1987 would end in tragedy for Argentine rock. Luca Prodan had finally lost his internal war with heroin and was found dead on December 22, due to complications from his addiction. [ [ Luca Prodan/Sumo] (Spanish)] His death was a shock to the entire music industry and to millions of heartbroken fans, and a prelude to further blight and woe to come. Following Prodan's death, the members of Sumo would split founding two new rock outfits: Divididos and Las Pelotas; both bands would be major players of 1990s rock.

Miguel Abuelo, following gallbladder surgery, would be diagnosed with AIDS; terminally ill, he died from cardiac arrest on March 26, 1988. Another member of the founding generation of Argentine rock was gone. Virus leader Federico Moura's persistent pneumonia fueled rumors of further complications, which ended in the revelation soon after by the singer that he was infected with the AIDS virus. [ [ Estrenos en ONCE TV: Virus] (Spanish)] Moura died on December 21, 1988, eerily a year after Prodan's death. Moura's passing completed a dreadful trifecta of musicians who had still much to offer. It was a tough blow for rock. As a group, Virus would surprisingly survive and soldier on into the 1990s as a more adult pop-rock outfit than the outrageous yet influential 80s band that helped define the sound of "techno-pop".

Three major trends defined the Argentine rock of the end of the 1980s. The first trend was the consolidation of the Argentine Invasion bands into somewhat more mature rock groups. Some began to experiment with world music in the last two years of the 80s decade. For example, Charly Garcia got together with his old Seru Giran partner Pedro Aznar and recorded "Tango", whose name accurately suggests the style of the album.cite book |first= Carlos |last=Polimeni |year=2000 |title=Demasiado Artista Excerpt at [] ] Before Federico Moura's death, Virus had also began turning to Brazilian music for their album "Superficies de Placer". In general the mood of the music got darker echoing a deteriorated economic climate.

A second was the rise of "Tropical" rock, and the explosion of local Reggae bands in Argentina seemingly out of nowhere in 1987. While Argentine rock was triumphant internationally, Argentina was caught in a reggae-mania: in the summer of that year arose Los Pericos, Los Cafres, La Zimbabwe, and Jafran, among many other smaller outfits. But it was a fad, and only Los Pericos would sustain and grow their careers once the fancy faded [ [ Zimbabwe] (Spanish)] (Los Cafres would be mildly successful starting in 1994).A band that was not a fad was Los Auténticos Decadentes, who would become a hugely popular ska-Latin pop and ballad group. They along with Los Pericos and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs would be leaders in the tropical rock scene of ska, reggae and latin music.

The third trend came about partly as a result of the first: many rock fans did not approve of the commercialism and experimentation of the A-bands, and increasingly looked underground for a more confrontational guitar-led rock. Among them: Todos Tus Muertos, Don Cornelio y La Zona (later Los Visitantes), Los Brujos, Babasónicos, Los Siete Delfines, Massacre Palestina. All of them would be part of the" "Nuevo Rock" ("New Rock") explosion of the early 1990s.

In heavy metal, the already mentioned Rata Blanca dominated popular tastes, specially in other Latin American countries, along with Hermética, JAF, and Horcas (the last two more domestic), in a very healthy scene for a style that never was overwhelmingly crowded in Argentine rock. A important band in the metal underground was Nepal, one of the pioneering bands of thrash metal. Formed in 1984, they were part of the first generation of worldwide thrashers, and gained prominence as the decade ended and musical tastes turned approbatory for more extreme metal. The genre got many magazines committed solely to it and distributed nationwide: Madhouse, Metal, Riff Raff, Revista Epopeya, etc.

The end of the 1980s were also a period of continued growth for Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, on their way to becoming one of the most mythic cult bands of broad popularity in the history of rock, anywhere. It was also the time when Los Ratones Paranoicos were gaining followers with the burgeoning "rolingas" (followers of a sub-genre of Argentine rock that is greatly indebted to the Rolling Stones). On the pop side Man Ray with their taylor made FM songs were ubiquitous. Finally, Divididos and their guitar-crunching melodic noise was more and more becoming a preview of what the next decade would bring. In general, as the fantastic '80s for Argentine rock closed, the music was in period of transition and exploration at all levels.

1990−1998: The Contemporary Period

"Cancion Animal" and New Rock

Soda Stereo's frontman Gustavo Cerati could foresee where the tide was heading and put his own band in front of it. After releasing the increasingly hard rocking "Doble Vida", the band headed to studio with new producer Daniel Melero to record their fourth major album, "Canción Animal". It was released in October 1990, about a year before Nirvana released "Nevermind".

"Cancion Animal" confirmed that it was OK to return Argentine rock to an 'in your face', edgy attitude that shaped the Argentine Invasion aesthetic in the early years of the 1980s, but this time with electric guitars as the stars. From that album, the single "de Música Ligera", might well be the most recognizable Spanish-language rock single of all time, and also one of the most covered by bands all over Latin America and elsewhere. "Cancion Animal" helped underground acts like Los Brujos, Peligrosos Gorriones, and Massacre break faster into the mainstream, by taking guitar-crunching rock to the apex as 1991 began. Even pop-bound groups like Los Enanitos Verdes rocked harder in their early '90s works, particularly in their "Big Bang" album, whose single "Lamento Boliviano" is now a classic.

These and other bands in their wake would be dubbed the "Nuevo Rock Argentino", or New Argentine Rock. A term that not long after would also be used as an umbrella to group bands with a hard-to-pin-down style, like the neo-surf pop of Super Ratones (from Mar del Plata), and neo-fusionists La Portuaria with their world music touches. "Nuevo Rock" would be the dominant form of rock in Argentina until the middle of the decade when it lost ground to so-called "rock suburbano".

In 1992, Soda Stereo presented "Dynamo", their fifth album, arguably the most conceptual (the other being "Signos"), and the most experimental to that point. It apparently took fans by surprise, and was the lowest seller of the group's works (it didn't help that in the middle of all this the band changed labels; Sony wouldn’t promote a band that was leaving, and BMG wouldn't promote another label's album). [ [ Artist A-Z Biography: Soda Stereo]] On the other hand Babasónicos had in 1992 their first major breakthrough of their careers with the hit "D-generación" from their 1992 album Pasto, which would herald future international success for a band that would define the sound of "sonic" rock. [ [ Babasónicos] ABC Rock Argentino-Artistas (Spanish)] Juana La Loca was another band in the so-called sonic scene that started in the early '90s and would breakthrough a few years later. Los Brujos would have a great year 1992; the single "Kanishka" was an instant chart-topper. Los Visitantes equaled the success of Los Brujos the next year with their album "Salud Universal", an offbeat mix of guitar rock and tango tinges. Todos Tus Muertos was a punk response to the Argentine rock being made in the late 1980s, consciously choosing to be far more direct and explicit in their musical (and political) statements. The band gained rapid acclaim with the rise of New Rock, and were one of the favorite bands of the period. Slowly the group would evolve from their early punk to a more diverse style that include afro-Latin rhythms.

The odd-group out that appeared in the early '90s was the outrageously named Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas (a reference to Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama). More rappers than rockers, the group nonetheless made a mark in the rock scene as time progressed and they were able to more successfully integrate rap with Argentine rock, and also Latin rhythms. One of the members, Dante, is the son of Luis Alberto Spinetta.

Suburban Rock

As New Rock was dominant, Suburban rock was at the same time laying the groundwork for large scale success later on. In its simplest description, suburban rock is straightforward and guitar centered, with a foundation in the blues, and an unsophisticated image (somewhat a counter-movement to the image conscious, musically more pretentious New Rock). Many of the bands would emerge from the distant suburbs of Buenos Aires, thus their style being dubbed "rock suburbano", or "suburban" rock (which goes under other terms including "rock chabón" and "rock barrial").

Undoubtedly the early influences of the genre can be said to be Sumo (aesthetically), and Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota. After Luca Prodan's death, Sumo's remaining members went on to either form Divididos or Las Pelotas. The former group's third album, "La Era de la Boludez" ("The Age of Dumbness"), was a commentary on modern Argentine society and made the band the more commercially fruitful of the two. [ [ Rolingas] (Spanish)] On the other hand Las Pelotas were not necessarily seeking commercialism, which earned them street-cred in the underground. All of these bands and their incessant tours around the suburbs of Buenos Aires and other cities would reap benefits not only for themselves but for other suburban groups that would follow soon after.

Some of the suburban acts owed so much to the sound of the Rolling Stones, that their followers came to be known as "rolingas"." Eventually "rolinga" became a style: cheesy 1970s sneakers, tight t-shirts with the logo of the Stones or a local 'stone' band, and a disdain for other Argentine rock sub-genres they consider part of the establishment. [ [ Brief History of Argentine Rock] (Spanish)] At the forefront of this movement were Los Ratones Paranoicos, whom for years before were perfecting a musical formula that would be emulated by countless neighborhood bands in years to come. They were joined in the Rolinga scene by Viejas Locas in the mid '90s.

The rise of the suburban style of rootsy-rock was a catalyst to bring the until then obscure bands of Argentine blues to the light. Memphis La Blusera are the undisputed fathers of the genre, performing and recording together since the late 1970s. Their appeal as well as that of newcomers La Mississippi increased dramatically in the 1990s as musical tastes now allowed a broader public to appreciate their work. Both bands are considered the indubitable leaders of the blues in Argentina.

1990s Metal

The last decade of the twentieth century was a very productive one for this style of rock in Argentina. There had always been "heavy" bands: Billy Bond y la Pesada del Rock in the 60s, Pescado Rabioso and Pappo's Blues in the 1970s, V8, Riff, and several underground metal acts in the 80s. But they had never been at the forefront of Argentine rock, seemingly always obscured by other genres whether it was acoustic, symphonic, progressive, or the 80s invasion bands. This changed in the 1990s.

As the decade started Rata Blanca, Horcas, Hermética and J.A.F had very respectable careers. Rata Blanca was internationally approved: in fact, it is plausible to state that their classic metal sound was more popular outside Argentina than within. Internationally popular to a lesser extent was Hermética, the archrivals of Rata Blanca (both formed in 87 when V8 disbanded), but there were no doubts of their massive following at home. Horcas and J.A.F stayed mostly successful in the local medium, though nonetheless had some overseas exposure.

The major development in Argentine metal of the 1990s was the rise of A.N.I.M.A.L.. The acronym translated literally stands for "Abused (accosted), Our Indians Died While Fighting". And their themes lived up to that title: the band would be one of the most outspoken advocates for indigenous people and even nationalism, while also (as such bands tend to do), blasting against the current world order. [ [ Biography- A.N.I.M.A.L.] -by Drago Bonacich] Their sound is equal parts hardcore, heavy metal, and thrash. Another important band formed in 1990 was Tren Loco, whom not long after went to Japan and won second place in a major battle-of-the-band event at famous Budokan Stadium in Tokyo. The metal underground also flourished in the 1990s, with bands like Alakrán, Jezabel, Jason, Logos, and Jeriko, among others.

Other developments

Solo artists from the earlier generations were by the 1990s established figures in the medium. The biggest two stars (as it had always been since 1970), were Charly Garcia and Luis Alberto Spinetta. Garcia enjoyed a prolific 1980s with many of his albums turning into classics. Spinetta had a more uneven worksheet but nonetheless was successful. Pappo continued spitting out blues and heavy rock records, Miguel Mateos remained a popular rock figure in Latin America and Spain even as he dropped almost off the radar in Argentina. Leon Gieco's unique "folk-rock meets world music" approaches made him an internationally acclaimed musician.
Fito Paez's pop career continued to take-off in the early 1990s. In 1992 he released "El Amor después del Amor", becoming the best selling Argentine rock album. The title "love after love" was not by chance: he had just ended a well-publicized relationship with female rocker Fabiana Cantilo (herself an important '90s singer in the movement), and was getting involved with movie actress Cecilia Roth. [ [ 'El amor después del Amor'] Wikipedia- La Enciclopedia Libre (Spanish)] With the album Paez was confirmed an international pop star. Meanwhile, Andrés Calamaro had enjoyed some popularity since his solo career begun, but never managed a complete breakthrough with the public. He left for Spain, and there met two local musicians forming Los Rodriguez in 1991. Two years later the hit single "Sin Documentos" finally gave Calamaro an international hit, and the band gained overnight vogue in Spain and Latin America.

Tropical, Fusion, and Latin influenced rock continued its ascent. 1992 was the year of "La Pachanga": Rosario's Vilma Palma e Vampiros single was an across the board mega hit in the Spanish-speaking world; there was no way of escaping it unless one did not have any kind of social life in the early '90s. Bands like Los Auténticos Decadentes, who had a major hit in 1990 with "Loco (tu forma de ser)", and Los Pericos mirrored the tendency of increased popularity for the sub-genre. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs had a slump in the early '90s after harvesting great accolades in the late 1980s, but came back with a roar in 1994 with "Vasos Vacios"; the compilation that featured "Matador". The single would turn into a global superhit, winning MTV's best video of the year. [ [ Biography] LFC - Official Website] The early '90s were also the formative years of a group that would have an impact towards the new millennium: Bersuit Vergarabat. La Mosca would begin tapping into the tropical and Latin trend by 1995.

Argentine punk-revival took off in the 1990s. Los Violadores had ruled '80s punk; them along with the foreign punk bands of yesteryear would inspire the members of Attaque 77 and Flema. Formed in 1986 and 1987 respectively, they were pioneers of the worldwide punk revival movement. Attaque 77's breakthrough came in 1990 with the single "Hacelo por Mi"; Flema never broke to the mainstream but were heroic figures of the punk underground. Both groups paved the way for dozens of followers. One of those were 2 Minutos, with their pure-energy, extreme, back-to-basics punk rock. Another darling of the scene were Todos Tus Muertos, perhaps one of few bands in any punk movement that was accepted for their various rock styles "besides" punk. Fun People took punk's liberal philosophy to another level by tackling the punk-scene itself: many of their lyrics criticized the macho attitudes in the movement which they saw contradictory to the spirit of punk. They were also the first band that sang in Spanglish, meanwhile another bands, like Drop Dead! used to do it only in English. The She Devils were the leaders of the local queercore scene. [Argentine Punk Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia] Cienfuegos, a punk band that had existed since the 80s but suffered various contingencies, finally would produce albums by the mid 90s.

"See:" Argentine punk

The Mid '90s Schism

In the middle years of the '90s a rift developed in Argentine rock that would, with only slight wrinkles, endure to present times.

By 1995 "nuevo rock argentino" or Argentine new rock had lost steam. For starters, bands like Los Siete Delfines and Peligrosos Gorriones, with their more artistic antics, fell out of favor. At the same time, groups like Massacre and La Portuaria went into recording hiatuses and would not return until more favorable winds in the early to mid 2000s. Los Brujos disbanded in 1998 after eight years of solid productions, but it left a large void in the movement. One of the last "hurrahs" of new rock were rap-rockers Actitud Maria Marta, which had a year of fame in 1995. Babasónicos, Todos Tus Muertos, and Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas were some of the new rock bands that were able to maintain their level as the year 2000 approached.

Also, 1995 would see the last album by Soda Stereo, their relaxed almost chillout-like "Sueño Stereo", an album at times more electronic than rock preluding where Gustavo Cerati's solo career would depart. Soda Stereo would go on a last grand tour through the United States and Latin America, selling out entire stadiums as they went. [ [ El último sorbo de Soda Stereo (Chile)] (Spanish)] Their last concert in Buenos Aires in 1997 was released as a double-album, and over 70,000 people twice over packed River Plate Stadium. The arguably greatest band in Argentine and Rock en Español history wrapped up the concert and their career with the live version of "De Musica Ligera";", Gustavo Cerati, the vocalist, guitarist and leader of the band, would end the song thanking his public, and would finish this gratitude by saying "... Gracias totales" (total thanks), this would become an icon of the Argentine rock.

Conversely, "suburban"; rock was on the up. On the one hand were the 1980s bands that by the mid '90s approached the suburban rock sound: Redonditos de Ricota, Divididos, Las Pelotas. They were joined by two bands that would define suburban in the late '90s as well: Los Piojos and La Renga. La Renga is also considered one of the "Rolinga" groups (followers of the Rolling Stones blueprint) like Los Ratones Paranoicos and Viejas Locas, whose weighty followings would only grow larger.

Argentine youth began to musically and socially gravitate to either the suburban rock groups or towards the underground. And even within these two major groupings there were subdivisions ("rolinga" and "post-chabón" in suburban rock; "sonico, punk, dark" in the underground). Then there were the heavy metal followers, the large and getting larger indie scene, and the tropical rock followers, genre increasingly intermixed with the fledgling Cumbia and cumbia villera movement which would explode in the new millennium. The pieces were in place for the current period of rock in Argentina.

1998− : Modern Argentine Rock

Late 1990s & New Millennium

The late 1990s charts were dominated by the success of bands like Los Piojos, La Renga, Divididos, Redonditos de Ricota, Las Pelotas, Los Ratones Paranoicos, La Mancha de Rolando, Caballeros de la Quema, and many more suburban rock bands. [ [ Brief History of Argentine Rock] (Spanish)] They were joined by Uruguayans La Vela Puerca in the style, giving rise to the term "rioplatense" rock (rock of the Río de la Plata region), to group all of the similarly inclined outfits. Suburban rock has created many fine singles and albums, but critics argue many of the bands (specially second rate groups in the "rolinga" scene), simply repeated the same formula to sell albums. Another feature of suburban rock is that it tends to shun overseas success: whether this is a conscious attitude or a simple limitation of the genre is an ongoing debate.

On the other hand the likes of Divididos, Los Piojos, and Redonditos have transcended its constraints and become influential in Argentine rock and popular on an international level. The better bands in the genre also feature an unusual versatility with non-rock styles like tango, folk, African music, Latin, jazz, and even North American country music, each with their own eclectic mixture. It would help elevate them from the legions of imitators in the crowded suburban scene. Divididos 6th album "Narigon Del Siglo" (2000) was one of the first great Argentine rock albums of the new decade; it was peppered with folk.

The underground was more under than usual in the late '90s, it was nonetheless extremely creative. A style that gained some mainstream exposure was "rock sónico" ("sonic" rock), influenced by the 80s "techno-pop" of Virus and early Soda Stereo (and also britpop), through Babasónicos and Juana La Loca. The latter group found success with sonic rock in 1997's "Vida Modelo". The former would increase their popularity with each new album, arriving at 2001's "Jessico", which received international acclaim as one of the first truly outstanding albums of the new millennium. [ [ Review- Jessico (by Babasonicos)] -by Ned Raggett] Other underground groups started making noise at this time: El Otro Yo, Catupecu Machu, and Santos Inocentes, leaders-to-be of the early 2000s alternative rock scene in Argentina. Super Ratones's returned to the alternative charts with 2001's Grammy nominee "Mancha Registrada".

In heavy metal, Hermética disbanded by 1995 giving rise to Almafuerte. With a more up-to-date sound, they were one of the late 1990s favorites along with A.N.I.M.A.L.. Rata Blanca continued to perform and record intermittently touring countries around Latin America. Classic metalists O'Connor in the underground would emerge by the early 2000s, along with exponents of "nu"-metal Cabezones and Carajo. One of the most critically acclaimed bands of present is Los Natas. Originally a stoner rock group, in subsequent albums the band has turned more experimental. Some have called this demiurgic style (infused with Argentine folk, psychedelia, and space rock)" "Patagonian doom", and this brand of metal has been ranked with the best heard in the new millennium. [ [ Review- Corsario Negro (by Los Natas)] -by Ed Rivadavia] The band itself prefers to call it "free" rock. In punk, Attaque 77 still went strong, Fun People did as well (including a European tour), until their disbanding in 2000. The punk underground of the late 90s was buzzing with new bands (Cadena Perpetua, Expulsados), many of them to guide the early 2000s melodic punk scene (Smitten, Shaila).

In tropical or fusion rock, Bersuit Vergarabat rose to the zenith of the genre. "Libertinaje" (1998) catapulted the band to the top, and to tours of the Americas and Europe. The follow up "Hijos del Culo" (2000) also went double-platinum. Both albums display a dizzying range in style versatility. From the side of reggae-rock Los Pericos and Los Cafres dominated. Ska had Los Calzones and Kapanga, but by 2000 Los Fabulosos Cadillacs had called it quits to their internationally renowned career of rock with ska, rap, reggae, and Latin. [ [ Fabulosos Cadillacs] -by Sandra Brennan] La Mosca and Dancing Mood reached achieved greater popularity. Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas produced some catchy, original, and danceable music (a mix of rock, hip-hop, and Latin) which cemented their fan base all over the Americas, until the duo's separation in 2001.

A highly talented and promising band was Karamelo Santo, another contribution of the city of Mendoza (also home of Los Enanitos Verdes). They featured a very refreshing mix of rock, punk, ska, afro-Uruguayan, and cumbia rhythms that earned them critical praise in Argentina. They would spend most of the 2001-2004 period on extensive tours of Europe and the Americas. [ [ Karamelo Santo]] Todos Tus Muertos would break up at the height of their popularity in 1999. Fidel Nadal kicked-off his hardcore Rastafarian career and veered towards cumbia villera.

By the year 2000 the cumbia villera, the preferred musical style in the villa miseria (slums) of Argentina's largest cities, had grown dramatically in following and in fact rivaled rock in overall popularity. Its lyrics can parallel those of U.S. rap (poverty, drugs and crime). The genre would increasingly crossover to tropical or fusion rock (as seen in Fidel Nadal, Bersuit, and Karamelo Santo), as well as with several suburban bands that were esteemed by fans of both cumbia villera and rock. Some even talked about a takeover during the height of the" villera" boom in 2001-2002. The reality is that "villera" did not take over rock. But it did arrive to stay as yet another fertile popular style of music in modern day Argentina, just as hip-hop created its place in the United States. But neither managed to sink rock, nor was it their intention to do so.

To a lesser extent dance and electronica music, which in Argentina have the largest scenes in Latin America, also influenced Argentine rock of the 2000s. A good example of this is the internationally prominent techno-pop act Miranda!, a band that owes as much to current dance and electronica as the '80s techno-pop of Virus and Los Encargados, electronic pioneers in Argentina.

Current Trends

As with any current, evolving musical movement, it is hard to define the state of the scene in question. Its final anthology will not be written until 10 to 20 years in the future. But in general terms, Argentine rock in the middle of the 2000s decade can be said to showcase the following trends:

* A continued commercial success of suburban and rolinga rock. In the early part of the current decade the so-called '2nd wave of suburban' crashed to the scene: Guasones, Jovenes Pordioseros, La 25, Cielo Razzo, and Callejeros. Their fan base is somewhat younger than those of the 1st wave, and their music is derivative of the 1st but with a slightly pop, more teen oriented approach.

* The current punk scene in Argentina features no real mainstream bands (besides eternal punks Attaque 77), and a huge underground scene which has a healthy amount of talent. Bands worth mentioning include Smitten, perhaps the best melodic hardcore punk band today (somewhat confirmed by their growth across Latin America); Cadena Perpetua with their well-crafted and tight songs; Shaila who features many English lyric songs, unusual for Argentine rock; and veterans 2 Minutos who soldier on.

* Heavy Metal at mid decade features a predominance of nu-metal and doom metal groups; Carajo, Cabezones and a recharged A.N.I.M.A.L. in the former (and all having toured extensively overseas), internationally acclaimed doomsters Los Natas, and Lörihen for the latter. O'Connor is the most prominent of the classic metal revivalists.

* In fusion or tropical rock Bersuit Vergarabat still command legions. Dancing Mood is the ska representative on the mainstream, and Nonpalidece is the current reggae-rock band in vogue. Other current bands include Karamelo Santo, Los Calzones, La Mosca, and Kapanga. Ex-Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Vicentico and ex-Todos Tus Muertos Fidel Nadal are both well embarked in their solo careers with fusion rock.

* In alternative, El Otro Yo continue their impressive streak of great albums and fresh sounding music. Catupecu Machu's slightly threatening rock has made them a mainstream alternative band, and Babasónicos are arguably the most internationally popular Argentine band today. La Portuaria, after a late 90s hiatus in a hostile musical climate, returned in the early 2000s as alternative once again resurfaced in Argentina.

* A renovated indie scene with great bands like Jaime Sin Tierra, which created lush beautiful rock before disbanding in 2001, and Interama and their left-of-the-dial melodies. Entre Rios's elegant electro lounge with female vocals is one of the best kept secrets in Argentina's indie scene. The indie scene also has a neo-symphonic revival scene with the likes of Pez and A Tirador Laser, bands which are reviving the sound of later 70s Argentine rock with an updated resonance.

* The start of the 2nd generation of Argentine rock solo artists formerly members of great bands of their era: Gustavo Cerati, Indio Solari, Vicentico, Fidel Nadal, etc. Ex-Soda Stereo Cerati spent most of the early part of the decade in the electronic side of music. In 2006 he returned with his first album of all new music since 2002 ("Ahi Vamos") where rock was front and center, albeit a more mature rock of a man in the middle age of his life. Ex-Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota Solari's debut album "El tesoro de los Inocentes" was seen as the best of 2004. Vicentico and his homonymous debut sold well, but his second effort suffered the sophomore slump. He has just released his third solo album, "Los Pájaros". Skay Beillinson, also ex-Redonditos, also did well with his first two solo efforts.

There are several current bands that are broadly tagged under suburban but are not easy to categorize: Arbol is arguably the most talented of them: their albums can go from hardcore to balladry, and from hard rock to folk and reggae. Los Tipitos and Villanos present a more melodic style of suburban. Los Tipitos show a tendency to mature pop-rock; Villanos's sound is cheery and shows more buoyancy, and at times slides towards the sound of Argentine "sonic" rock with a dash of punk. And Intoxicados has been burning the rock charts throughout 2006, their latest effort "Otro Dia en en Planeta Tierra" (2005) digging hit after charting hit. A diverse album stylistically with lyrics whose content seem not to match the music, it features the suburban blueprint sound but it is used more as a foundation than a showcase.

Famous Argentine musicians

* Aznar, Pedro
* Calamaro, Andrés
* Pappo Napolitano, Norberto
* Carballo, Celeste
* Cerati, Gustavo
* Garcia, Charly
* Martinez, Javier
* "Indio Solari", Carlos Alberto
* Giardino, Walter
* Gieco, León
* Nebbia, Litto
* Iorio, Ricardo
* Lebon, David
* Narvaja, Roque
* Mestre, Nito
* Botafogo, Miguel
* Paez, Fito
* Goy Ogalde
* Cantilo, Fabiana
* Cantilo, Miguel
* Prodan, Luca
* Nebbi, Litto
* Spinetta, Luis Alberto
* Vicentico
* Flavio Cianciarulo
* Javier Calamaro


See also

* Argentine punk

External links

* [ Radio MEGA online - exclusively Argentine-rock]
* [ Database on Argentine rock artists, songs and albums]

* [ National Rock]

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