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.
I pray for the day when the Austin Bandcamp tag is just pages and pages of promising beat tapes instead of endless Bob Schneider live recordings. But until then, I’m getting by with the occasional appearance of things like Fausuto’s Oddsummer, a quirky musical travelogue that begins in splendid fashion with the breezy track “Mombacho.” Out of a burst of static and bird calls, a breakbeat and tropical woodwinds emerge, and then they never leave your head. Fausuto’s got a hefty Soundcloud following so I’m kicking myself for not getting into their stuff sooner, but now I’m learned enough to keep an ear out for whatever’s next and I’d suggest you do the same.
Beressi “Coast 2 Coast”
Reliable beat providers Always Proper just dropped a new album by Beressi called Moony, which seems to be an attempt to make the ’90s hip hop wars a little more chill. “Coast 2 Coast” is the standout, dropping Timbaland’s filtered interruptions from Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” over some casually seductive flute samples and a laid back beat. It’s disarmingly relaxed but engaging enough to warrant endless listens, making it a perfect audio detour for the midweek.
Third Root “Soul Force”
Collaborative hip hop project Third Root released the second single from its upcoming album Libertad recently and the roster of artists involved with it alone is enough to make it notable. Bringing together veteran Texas hip hop greats Riders Against the Storm, Da’Shade Moonbeam, Bavu Blakes and Vocab with Third Root’s own Easy Lee and MexStep, “Soul Force” might as well be considered a Texas hip hop symposium. Adrian Quesada gives the crew a classic drum-focused beat that twists and turns as each of the emcees unveils their specific style, with DJ Chicken George arranging everything so that everyone shines. 2016 has been a banner year for Texas hip hop but even amongst this year’s steep competition, Third Root’s “Soul Force” packs enough star power to light up an entire galaxy.
fuvk “Call and Response”
The mysterious fuvk put up another EP of quiet, shimmery bedroom pop fittingly titled Ghosted. Featuring three slight tracks, Ghosted continues to make the case for fuvk as one of Austin’s most promising singer-songwriters. This is especially clear on “Call and Response,” an introspective and complicated examination of unrequited love told from the perspective of the person who doesn’t feel the same way. One of fuvk’s signature traits is breathlessly delivering lyrical strings that aren’t wordy but instead feel weighted with meaning and intensity, like she has to deliver the sentiments before she talks herself out of speaking up at all. The guitar playing always remains low key but locomotive, usually at about half the pace as the vocal delivery. It’s an unusual approach to songcraft but one that makes fuvk all the more intriguing.
Théorie Ornery “I’m Gonna Love You”
Speaking of intriguing approaches, new project Théorie Ornery’s “I’m Gonna Love You” is a clever mix of lo-fi electronics and Weeknd style misanthropic R&B. The chorus’ declaration that “I’m gonna love you/Like you’ve never been loved before” sounds more menacing than seductive given the delivery and the trip-hop background textures. Austin has been pretty light on this kind of digital R&B so it’s smart for Théorie Ornery to pick up the slack and release singles for the darker moments of the night.
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