Listening to twee pop from South America and feeling nostalgic about the 90’s was not how I planned on spending a sick and tired Monday night. Yet, there I found myself, eyes glued to yet another screen, soaking up sounds from a far away place and digging into information about a scene I never knew existed.
It started out when I saw an Instagram post about a rerelease of a record by South American disco pioneer Junior Mendes posted by Bandcamp (that website is an international treasure). Since Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks in posts, I navigated over to the Bandcamp site to do a search for the record. As often happens with the internet, I saw a piece that distracted me from my original search and got sucked down a rabbit hole. The piece that drew my attention was a Bandcamp Daily feature about Gatitx Discos, a Central/South American noise pop record label that just released a compilation showcasing their artists. The artists hail from Chile, Peru and Argentina and draw heavily on early 1990’s UK and US indie pop for inspiration. The music on Gatitx Records sounds intentionally very different than the cumbia and reggaeton stuff that you typically hear coming out of that part of the world. The first track to which the article calls your attention is a song called “Husker Dü” by the band Peruvian band Gatxs Monteses.
“We don’t want to talk about ideology, but I don’t trust rich people,” says one of the members of Gatxs Monteses via email. “Rich people have control of music, they play music as a hobby or [to get] attention…[we want to] make the music real, nothing more.”
The low-budget DIY attitude helps to explain the garagey feel of the music. All of the tracks from Gatitx Disco that I sampled had a distinctly lo-fi feel that took me back to my late high school and early college days listening to bands on labels like Sub Pop, Merge and Matador Records. It felt refreshing, because even indie music tends to have such a polished sound these days.
I knew that I should have turned off my iPad and rested, but I kept clicking to sample the next band. I wanted to hear how accurate the blurbs about the bands were in their comparisons to the luminaries of an earlier age of indie pop. It turns out that they didn’t stray far from the mark.
For example, take a listen to “Perfect Date” from Kawaiimaster420. You are sure to pick up on the J. Mascis guitars. If you were weaned on Dinosaur Jr., it should make you feel the urge to put Green Mind on the turntable.
YOU (DON'T) NEET ME LP by KawaiiMaster420
The Argentinian band Ice Cream Ü effectively channels Superchunk in their track “Patio” from the full length Un Espacio Entre Portales.
Un Espacio Entre Portales by Ice Cream Ü
The track “Paracaidistas” by Jardinería del Mar sounds like something from early K Records and features nice call and response boy/girl vocals.
UNO by Paracaidistas
I spent longer than I should have going through the Gatitx Discos catalog. If you are looking for something different and maybe a trip down memory lane, checkout the article and the bands featured. Most of the full-lengths that I listened to were name your price, so they represent a great opportunity to get into the sounds the kids to the south of us are making.
Also, the Junior Mendes record that Bandcamp was promoting was nowhere to be found on their site. That’s just the way that the internet works.