If you live in Austin then you already know there’s too much damn music to keep track of. And sometimes you just want to sift through it in bite-sized chunks. We totally understand. Allow us to introduce you to The Latest Toughs, five tracks from five bands to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.
Cap’n Kirk- “Zip Lox”
It’s post Easter but I am a culture writer and can’t resist an easy set up, so fuck it– pulling from the pages of The Man himself, Cap’n Kirk has risen up from SubKulture Patriots to make his solo debut, FMBO, and I’m having an easier time resisting slightly melted Cadbury eggs than I am its charms. Stuffed full of characteristically smart Click-Clack production, FMBO is a tape that begs for repeats and longer than necessary rides home just to feel that low end rumble a bit longer. “Zip Lox” is what has caught my ear most, though, because it’s such a strange hybrid of disparate sounds. There’s the expected chopped and screwed insertions, but there’s also Chicago soul samples boosting the melodic flow Kirk brings to the table. You can trace the ingredients used to cook this track, yet the mix itself is as close to magic as any Cordon Bleu culinary creation. Another Monday, another reason to believe Austin hip hop is blowing up in a way that the rest of the world won’t be able to ignore much longer.
Annabelle Chairlegs- “King of the Future”
Maybe this wasn’t the intended message of the modern psych rock doc Dig! but by the end of that movie my chief thought was “As crazy as that dude is, I’d still much rather be in a band with Anton Newcombe than those self-absorbed dicks in the Dandy Warhols.” The Dandy Warhols’ sound, if you will remember, was built around making psych go pop, so it still had the groove and the weirdness but it lacked the haze and confusion and unease. It was psych without paranoia, a big beat with no insanity to keep you on your toes. I have no reason to suspect that anyone in Annabelle Chairlegs is even a tenth as crazy as Newcombe, nonetheless I think their new track “King of the Future” shows they swear the same allegiance in the Brian Jonestown Massacre-Dandy Warhols feud. Escalating from a slow single string guitar riff into a two step dance between Texas blues rock rhythm and shoegaze swell, “King of the Future” culminates in a very Newcombe chorus, Lindsey Mackin stating “the future” over and over, twisting it in her mouth until it is both declaration and question, dream and nightmare. There might not be any radio friendly hooks here, but the menace and the fear in the lyrics and sonic architecture are their own kind of addictive, a vision you don’t understand yet return to over and over, hoping for some kind of meaning.
US Weekly- “Good”
There’s some cheeky confidence that goes into giving your band a name as lawsuit-ready as US Weekly. That’s a name that says “go ahead and kill us go ahead and do it.” Then you factor in the heavy Barbara Kruger influence in their cover art and all signs point towards the band being constructed around conceptional conflict first and foremost. But fuck if their single “Good” isn’t, well, good. Beginning with an unholy racket of delay knob twiddling and a “Louie Louie” beat, “Good” is both musically and lyrically obsessed with thrusting its hormones out at every healthy and not-so-healthy body in sight. “MY MOOD WAS VIOLENT” someone (s)creams in all caps arial bold. “YOUR BODY NEXT TO MINE FELT GOOOOOOOD” comes next, that last word coated in mucus and sleaze and who knows what else, the o dragged out obscenely long, a crotch grab in melodic form. “BUT DO I EVEN WANT YOU?” the body asks. I don’t know about the object of his affections but from a consumer stand point I’m going to say fuck yes, I do.
US Weekly plays tomorrow, April 7th, at the North Door with Australia’s Rule of Thirds and more.
Butcher Bear- “Esoteric Clerics ft. Chief & the Doomsday Device and BoomBaptist”
A number of local labels and collectives put out compilations during SXSW, to either hype showcases or give you a keepsake so you wouldn’t forget who you talked over the performances of while sipping on Sailor Jerry’s and getting a free tattoo. This is almost certainly a wise business strategy. But it also means that a lot of shit got missed because keeping up with anything during SXSW is a fool’s errand. I say this mostly as an excuse for why I haven’t already written about the Exploded Drawing compilation soundfounder and Butcher Bear did. The whole thing is bursting at the seams with excellent collabs and one-offs, a personal favorite being “Esoteric Clerics,” a Butcher Bear joint that has me thinking back on that Quakers project from a few years back. That might be because the beat is relatively sparse, giving a lot of headroom to Chief & the Doomsday Device and BoomBaptist to flex their flows. Chief especially comes off great here, finally sounding as ferocious on record as he does in a live setting. Chief normally operates solo, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if he and Butcher teamed up again. In fact, I’d even be willing to beg for more of that.
Anthony Maintain- “Leaky Boat”
I feel so bad about not putting word out sooner about this Exploded Drawing comp that I’m going to buck tradition and write up another offering from the comp this week. And with Friday being the end of the work week and all, I figure Anthony Maintain’s workaholic grind track “Leaky Boat” serves nicely. Frenetic and exotic, “Leaky Boat” has Maintain operating in Aesop Rock mode, storming out of the gate with a financial crisis flip of “we don’t need no walkie talkies” in the brilliant opening line “Recession? What recession?/I’ve often plugged in holes in the same leaky boat/Since 1997.” Maintain accelerates his verbage so subtly you don’t notice the speed he’s operating at until it’s breakneck, creating a mirage of casualness, like this is a normal conversation that you could follow too if you only opened your mouth. But the truth is Maintain is beyond mortal ken, you’d end up with at least a lacerated tongue if you so much as attempted to keep up.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover