Hola amigos y amigas! Sorry that it’s been a while since the last post, but the Life in the Vinyl Lane family is wrapping up a nice vacation in Argentina, our first time visiting South America. We’ve been super busy (we walked approximately 55 miles over the course of 4.5 days in Buenos Aires according to our fitness tracker…) and since we’re getting ready to head home in a couple of days (which involves three flights… ugh) I thought I’d reflect for a few minutes on our attempts at record shopping.
So first things first. A lot of stuff in Argentina is super inexpensive by US standards. Great local wines are easily found in the $5-10 range and I’m constantly amazed at how small our food bills are. But some stuff is expensive as hell, and one of those things is, unfortunately, vinyl records. Brand new, sealed vinyl generally sells in the 650-800 peso range, or about $40-50 US, and I saw a few double albums priced around $90 each. Ouch. In talking to a guy at one of the shops, it sounds like the big problem is there are no longer any major pressing plants in the country, so even the re-releases of classic Argentinian bands are manufactured in the Czech Republic and shipped to Argentina, which adds all kinds of extra costs and taxes. Used vinyl is pricey as well, though, and generally in very shabby condition. It appears the jackets produced in the 1970s through 1990s were of poor quality stock and most suffer from evidence of moisture exposure, which isn’t a surprise given the climate and what I suspect was a general lack of home air conditioning back in the day. Now, if you want Argentinian pressings of the rock classics, they’re all available; just expect to pay $10-30 for low quality copies, many of which looked like the probably wouldn’t sound too hot on my table if they played at all without skipping like a kindergartener.
I probably should have dropped $30 for the beat-to-hell copy of Led Zeppelin II I found just because I love the record, but it would be something that just sat on my shelf unplayed, a fetish item, so I decided to pass. Unquestionably the items I got most excited about were original pressings of two different records by the OG Argentinian punk band Attaque 77, but at 3,600 pesos each (about $230) in “Good” condition, I just couldn’t justify the expense. I can’t find any sales history on these from the various sites that track such things, so I’m sure they’re quite rare. But to spend that much on something that had more scratches on it than a cat lady’s sofa didn’t make much sense to me.
I hit up quite a few shops in Buenos Aires, probably a half dozen in total. But I only ended up buying stuff in one of them… and that was only CDs! To be fair, I’m not going to write about any place where I didn’t make a purchase, which unfortunately only leaves me with two shops to touch on here.
Jorge L.Borges, 1664
1414 Buenos Aires
We stumbled upon Tempo Musica by accident on our way to a pizza joint near our rental apartment. Up to that point I’d been completely shut out musically and was a bit bummed. However, earlier in the day we’d been at a food truck in an out-of-the way part of town and the dudes running it were blasting some killer Argentine metal, so we asked who the band was and they told us Rata Blanca. We decided what the hell, and asked the guy at Tempo if he had any, and he seemed quite excited that some Americans wandered in asking for local metal. Next thing you know we left with about 8-9 CDs by various local bands, including the previously mentioned Attaque 77. And unlike vinyl, new CDs are cheap here – were paid about 140 pesos each, rough $9.
The guy working there, who I believe is the owner, was cool and spoke very good English. He was happy to talk about local music and made some good recommendations. The shop is tiny and is mostly given over to CDs. He had a little vinyl too, though honestly I didn’t spend much time flipping through it. A worthwhile stop if you’re in the Palermo district and looking for some local jams.
I was going through vinyl withdrawal by the time we traveled from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and I only had one shop on my list that I wanted to check out – Amadeus Rockería. A narrow hallway of a shop, it’s packed to the gills with all kinds of stuff from music to DVDs to patches to buttons and backpacks and posters… There’s a decent amount of loosely organized vinyl that is grouped by category (“1970s Rock”, “Male Singers”, etc.) but not alphabetized or arranged in any other way, making digging difficult.
Before even stepping foot inside I’d already decided that at the very least I’d pick up one or two of the local re-releases I’d seen in Buenos Aires, so with that in mind I came away with reissue copies of the sophomore albums from speed metallers Hermética and new wavers Soda Stereo. They weren’t cheap (720 pesos each), but at least I’m bringing something home on vinyl. Condition on the used records was similar to what I’d seen in Buenos Aires, and one thing that made this place a bit tricky is that most of the vinyl stock wasn’t priced – I had to take it up to the counter to find out how much everything cost.
Fortunately that wasn’t all we experienced on the music front, as we also got a chance to hook up with brothers Ariel and Diego Sima from the electro-group Farmacia. I recently reviewed their latest release Suero, and that resulted in us getting in touch with them. We had a great time meeting with them in Buenos Aires and bought some of their previous albums (CDs and cassettes) from them as well. We got to play some of it in our apartment and it’s fantastic stuff – you’ll definitely be hearing more about it on the blog after we return home next week. It’s important to support indie artists directly whenever possible, so it was a privilege to meet them and buy some of their merch. We even hooked up again later in the trip with Ariel who took us to a local pizza/empanada joint where we spent a few hours talking about our lives.
Well, that’s it from Argentina, my friends. Hopefully I’ll get back to a more typical posting schedule in a week or so!