Sin firma, la nota de MTV arranca con un diagnóstico del país. "Uruguay, con 3,3 millones de habitantes, tiene algún que otro problema con su autoestima. ¿Y quién puede culpar a los uruguayos? Después de todo, el pequeño país está en el medio de los gigantes económicos, políticos y culturales Brasil y Argentina. Hay quienes confunden el país con Paraguay, y otros con Uganda".
Pero la situación remonta a continuación. Uruguay tiene, se afirma en el artículo, la clase media más grande y fuerte de toda América Latina, además de tener un presidente que además de ser catalogado como "socialista" también es considerado como "badass", término coloquial que designa a alguien que, como se diría en Uruguay, "va para adelante" (entre varias de las múltiples acepciones que tiene el término).
"Pero lo más importante de todo: Uruguay tiene una escena musical cabrona", (bitching, en inglés) según el informe, que destaca a ocho artistas, con una breve reseña de su trayectoria y un vínculo a un tema en la plataforma Soundcloud. Los destacados son Franny Glass, Hablan Por La Espalda, Campo, No Te Va Gustar, Los Hermanos Láser, La Vela Puerca, Sante Les Amis y Dinamita & La Swing Factory.
Dejo la nota completa, está en inglés:
La Vela Puerca
Also with roots in the mid 90s, the next biggest band in Uruguay aside from No Te Va Gustar is La Vela Puerca. Recognizable by their angry pig-smoking-a-joint logo, La Vela makes straight-forward, balls-to-the-wall ska-punk with heavy grunge guitars and catchy vocal hooks. La Vela Puerca got its start when it won a band contest put on by an Uruguayan TV station, and rapidly became hometown heroes, regularly packing the 5000-capacity Teatro de Verano venue in Montevideo. They’re well-known outside of Uruguay, especially in Argentina, and recently made an appearance at the 2013 LAMC in New York City, signaling they are looking to expand into new territories.
Hilariously self-defined as “subtropical music”, CAMPO is one of the most exciting groups to come out of Uruguay in recent years. It’s a project by Juan Campdónico (of Bajofondo fame) and a host of other local luminaries, including Martín Rivero, who led the now-defunct Uruguayan Britpop band Astroboy. The “subtropical music” thing is cheeky way of paying tribute to the “tropical” music scene the temperate climes of Uruguay and Argentina, where a somewhat vanilla cumbia culture has thrived alongside the rock-centric mainstream since the ‘60s (and has been thoroughly ignored by “cool” bands until now). CAMPO’s experiment in culture clash is pretty nicely summed up by the track “Cumbio,” which is like new-wave cumbia indie disco sung in English – a flavor of “nu-cumbia” we really haven’t quite heard yet.
No Te Va Gustar
You might think that giving your band a name that means “You’re Not Going To Like It” which is also grammatically incorrect (proper Spanish would be No Te Va A Gustar), but these guys have done just fine. They’re the biggest band in Uruguay today, as well as fairly major stars around Latin America. Since they started the band as teenagers in the mid ‘90s, No Te Ve Gustar] has won fans with a kind of wistful rock sound, tinged with reggae, funk and even a little bit of murga, the Uruguayan carnival tradition in which a dozen dudes dress up as clowns and put on satirical musical plays in 5-part harmony. Tragedy struck the band during the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference, when keyboardist Marcel Curuchet died in a motor cycle accident the night before the band was set to showcase in New York City.
Hablan Por La Espalda
You can’t talk about Uruguayan music without talking about candombe. Scratch that – you can’t take a Sunday stroll in Uruguay without crashing headfirst into candombe, the Afro-Uruguayan street music on that takes form as a 100-strong battery of drummers coming at you down the middle of the road, with the sonic force of a thunderstorm. There’s a long history of candombe-rock hybrids (check out ‘60s legends El Kinto for a taste), and Hablan Por La Espalda is one of the latest incarnations. With fluttering candombe drums in the backdrop, the band sings and chants group hooks over Santana-esque psychedelic rock and blues jams.
Dinamita & La Swing Factory
If you happened to be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last summer, there’s a chance you came across a rather short man with long curly locks and a pimp-worthy fur coat playing blues guitar on the street on Bedford Avenue or drunkenly yelling at passersby. That man is the human explosive known as Dinamita, and he is the living ghost of rock ‘n’ roll. Dinamita calls Montevideo home, and along with his band La Swing Factory, he will rock your face with his sicknasty licks. He just wants to rock ‘n’ roll all night. Will you let him?
Los Hermanos Láser
You don’t hear a whole lot of country music in South America, but we probably should? Uruguay, much like the imagined old American West, is a culture of cowboys—the gauchos— and their cowboys look a whole lot cooler. The American South is all about barbecue; Uruguayans just eat giant slabs of grilled meat all day. Anyway, Los Hermanos Láser (The Laser Brothers) are here to fill that gap. The band takes a Latin American pop-rock base and seasons it with gorgeous vocal harmonies, tinkling layered guitars and sounds from country and bluegrass, especially the sorrowful harmonica that wails throughout the band’s self-titled debut. “Fresno” is the kind of song you want playing over a road trip montage in your life-movie.
Singer-songwriter Gonzalo Deniz, alias Franny Glass, channels the longstanding South America tradition of the trovador: the image of a lone bohemian, wandering the earth his guitar and a song. With a name borrowed from a JD Salinger book and a musical style borrowed from a broad spectrum of folk icons ranging Leonard Cohen to Caetano Veloso, Franny Glass’ songs are vulnerable and totally bewitching. His most recent album, Con la mente perdida en intereses secretos (With The Mind Lost In Secret Interests) includes this tasty lead track, “No pasé durmiendo el invierno” (“I Didn’t Spend Winter Sleeping”)
Sante Les Amis
Heading up the next generation of Uruguayan talent is Sante Les Amis. They describe their music as “disco-punk” and they’re not wrong. Heavy distorted bass, four-on -the-floor drum beats, chorus-laden guitars and syrupy synths abound in their tunes, kind of like a South American Pheonix. The band has four albums out, and each one is getting better than the next. The latest, 2012’s Sudamericana is a seriously polished affair – check out “Dormido” for proof.