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.
Hey Moon “Bottom of the Night”
There’s a distinct possibility that I am the last human who cares about Imperial Teen. Which is too bad, because if ever there was a time for people to come around to IT’s brand of synth-led power pop, it’s right now. Regardless of whether or not Hey Moon are also harboring a secret crush on Imperial Teen, their new EP Rue Charlot sounds like the natural inheritor to that overlooked Merge act, and I’m hoping they’ll enjoy a little more time in the spotlight. Opening track “Bottom of the Night” begins with a fake-out faux Blondie riff before morphing into hook heavy power pop with abundant clever wordplay– fans of Sweet Spirit will find a lot to love here, as will fans of Tele Novella (particularly since Hey Moon’s Stephanie Chandra has a lot in common with Natalie Ribbons vocally). Before the song’s brief run time is up, it showcases a dizzying number of addictive qualities, and the rest of what follows on the EP is just as habit forming. Don’t sleep on Hey Moon.
Mélat “No Bad News”
Despite our best efforts to get Austin to pay more attention to her, Mélat remains under the radar in the 512. But the futuristic R&B singer’s new single “No Bad News” indicates she’s looking far beyond our city limits anyway. A collaboration with hot producer The SEVENth, “No Bad News” is one of Mélat’s most powerful works yet, the beat splitting its time between grimy trip-hop and club-ready R&B, Mélat’s voice sounding more confident and bold than ever before, reaching lower in her range to bring out a desperate, aching quality. Mélat is clearly pushing herself and her music to reach ever higher, and it’s only a matter of time before people get on her level.
Thanks Light “Family Jewels”
Oddball psych rock group Thanks Light sound more like Man Man than the Black Angels but their most recent single “Family Jewels” still packs enough haze and repetition to soundtrack any number of trippy montages. The structure of “Family Jewels” is where the psych elements most come into play, as it gets most of its character from the spontaneous shifts in layers and tones rather than complex chord changes. Zane Ruttenberg’s vocals keep the listener constantly on their toes, wielding a wide variety of techniques ranging from menacing growls to seductive coos, while Glenn-Michael Frels’ piano fills and spacey synths spill out around the edges. It’s a weird, lovable track that makes it easy to be excited for the band’s upcoming full length.
Max Wells x Lil Tokyo “Sticky”
Up and comer Max Wells quietly dropped a new collaborative EP with Lil Tokyo and Hella Sketchy a few weeks back, and though it’s quite a bit different from the more personal and ambitious EP Now I’m Here, it continues to mark the young emcee as a talent to watch. “Sticky” is the opener and also the best single, notable for its use of a Link yelp for a hook and for the synchronicity between GF Retro’s bright, cheery Nintendo samples and Max Wells’ hyper chill delivery. The song is one of those ideal late summer jams, breezy and casual but substantial enough to make constant repeats not just tolerable but necessary.
Stat1 “Attack of the Clones (ft. Protextor and Crew54)”
Austin hip hop veteran Stat1 takes on scene phonies, lazy pretenders and society at large in the self-explanatory “Attack of the Clones,” with fellow vets Protextor and Crew 54 joining in the assault. Stat1’s delivery on the track is refreshingly vicious given his recent material, but considering how ferocious and frenzied Kydd Jones’ beat is, what would you expect? That leaves Protextor and Crew54 to skew a little more diplomatic in regards to speed and volume but both guests don’t hesitate to dig in with their lyrics– Crew 54’s line “All lives matter/More than ours” cuts especially deep. All told, “Attack of the Clones” stands out as one of the most invigorating recent Austin hip hop singles, and it couldn’t hit at a better time.
Stat1 performs October 8th at Spinners as part of Bar Fest with DJ Versus and more.
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