The first time I listened to Intrépidos Navegantes, I laughed— hard. The opening credits of an early 90’s laughtrack sitcom started reeling in my head, the kind with a happy yet dysfunctional family and a token creepy neighbor and/or uncle. The song I am talking about in particular is called “Aguas,” which also happens to be the title track of their one and only album. I considered it a good sign if the first song already had me wrapped up in a daydream.
“Aguas” is catchy, playful, and truly captures the sentiment of a brilliant day filtered through orange tinted sunglasses, much like the meaning of their name, which translates to Intrepid Mariners. These guys may be young, but they’ve got something going on, and Buenos Aires certainly seems to like them. Their résumé already includes performances at a Pepsi Music and Quilmes Rock festival, three Personal Fests, and an opening gig for The Killers last year in front of an audience of more than 20,000 people.
Los Navegantes is a group of guys ranging in age from 21 to 23, with Maximiliano Calvo and Matías Medina leading the charge on vocals and guitar, Kevin Borensztein on bass and Augustín Leiva on drums. Half rosarino, half porteño, the group met in high school and found that their combined talents created a complementary blend of the two cultures.
“We’re the combination of two musicians from Rosario with two other musicians from Capital Federal, and that gives the band a special dye. It’s an inter-provincial mixture of poetry, music and intentions. We believe that some of that is expressed within our name. As we always say, the band joins the Paraná River and the Rio De La Plata in song,” responded the band when asked to define their origins.
To give those of you a context who may not be familiar with South American geography, the Paraná originates in Brazil and flows through Paraguay and finally, Argentina, nearing its culmination in Rosario, and emptying out into the Rio De La Plata, the wide river that flows alongside Buenos Aires. The second longest river next to the Amazon and the natural border between Argentina and Paraguay, the Paraná holds a great deal of significance in South American culture.
Enough with the metaphors. I asked the boys how they actually started, how they caught their first big break, and they told me that it happened naturally. “We signed up for a band contest and won, then after playing at the planetarium, we were invited to play several festivals. We won an award at the 2013 Bienal Arte Joven Buenos Aires, which helped us book more festivals, and more work in general.”
The band’s sound changes pretty drastically from song to song, as to be expected from a younger group still figuring out their tastes and fortes. Here in ‘tina they would be classified as Rock Nacional, meaning that it’s essentially rock from Argentina, and that lyrics are sung exclusively in Spanish.
The undercurrent consistent throughout their music is the all-encompassing— don’t hate me for being ambiguous— indie rock vibe, with a small dose of retro that makes it smoothly hip. Now, I do consider the direct comparison of artists a folly of assumption because you can’t expect everyone to know the bands to which you make reference. I generally prefer descriptions that appeal more to emotions. I have to break my rule here, however, because a couple of these guys’ songs sound so much like Blink 182 that I they teleport me back in time. Case in point:
Most of the band’s published material is from Aguas, released in 2012, along with a few singles from 2013, all of which can be heard on their Bandcamp website.
“Elevar,” to me, is the bread and butter of the Aguas album. I have to move every time I hear it. It does, indeed, elevate the listener.
The bridge puts a little smirk on your face, doesn’t it? The deeply satisfying contrast of classic blues with modern rock makes me want to swing around haphazardly. This song is the primary reason I will make the trek out to San Isidro for Lollapalooza before I even have time to eat lunch next Tuesday.
The Navegantes have toured all over Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay since the release of their debut album. What they humbly decided not mention in our interview was that their show at planetarium was alongside fellow Rosario native Fito Páez, arguably the largest fixture of Argentine Rock. They were in fact celebrating the 20th anniversary of Páez’s album El Amor Después del Amor, which has sold more copies than any other in rock nacional history.
Even though the band is growing rapidly in popularity, their roots remain intact. The claim their friends are more influential than any other force. “We are surrounded by friends that make music. They are our biggest influence and we are theirs. It’s kind of like a constant exchange of information. Together we are the new generation,” said the Navegantes.
They also remain charmingly unaffected. Their favorite memory of themselves to date is simply “the four of us making music together. It’s the most beautiful thing we know.”
What’s on the horizon for the band this year? One of their newest collective interests is dance, and they want to make a video with choreography themes echoing Abba and the Bee Gees. I don’t think these guys will fail to entertain.
While it may seem as though my description of the band and their music is candy coated, I do want to establish an important point. As a whole, Aguas is distinguishable as a freshman album. The double edged sword of any young band is that on the one hand, they are fresh, fun, and therefore vary song to song by their nature, but on the other hand that same diversity can be considered flighty and capricous, lacking a steady sense of self. However, I do think these dudes have talent to work with and a great deal of drive to back it up. I see no end in sight for the young ‘uns, and it’s only going to get better.
Intrépidos Navegantes are playing at Lollapalooza on Tuesday, April 1. They hold the 12:30 to 1 hour time slot.