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.
Taken by Savages- “Shatter Your Face”
Super duo Taken by Savages spent two years working on a follow-up to their excellent, overlooked debut and what’s most surprising about the result is how sludgy it is. Maybe that’s because they’ve got less to prove, or maybe it’s just because they wanted the sonics to match Sleepaway Cramp’s “slime green” vinyl pressing. Whatever the inspiration, the album skews more Breeders than Enon this time around, particularly on standout track “Shatter Your Face,” which has Annie Choi channeling Kim Deal for bass and vocal melodies while Joseph Ziemba keeps the rhythm to stomps and clacks and subtle tambourine. What hasn’t changed is Choi’s knack for kiss off lyrics, particularly in the song’s chorus of “I will shatter your face/Call me back when you’re trained.” It’s a handy line for numerous situations, like holding off a stubborn ex or taunting victims at your Texas Chainsaw Massacre-themed party.
Spray Paint- “Shit Me to Tears”
“You always had drunk driver eyes” is one of those perfect destructive lines you utter at the dissolution of a relationship because you’ve been holding it in for so fucking long and it refuses to stay put any longer. It’s a line that zeroes in on deep guilt and shittiness and twists a knife that can’t be removed. The relationship Spray Paint drop this verbal nuke on in “Shit Me to Tears” is one of those old clunky friendships you aren’t sure why you bother with anymore. Over a warped record take on pogoing punk, Spray Paint eviscerate a guy who won’t stop showing them pictures on his phone and won’t shut up about worthless memories. Except the menacing maelstrom of guitar skronks and distant, nasally voices indicate the memories aren’t the nostalgic kind and the pictures aren’t amber hued but instead it’s all a shitstorm of guilt and regret, like the band is pinned in a corner by a tearful old drunk confessing to vehicular manslaughter.
Spray Paint play Hotel Vegas next Wednesday, August 10th
Tele Novella- “Heavy Balloon”
Kydd Jones- “M.I.A.”
Kydd Jones has been blowing up in a big way since he left Austin (surprise surprise!) but in case you haven’t been keeping up, he got added to the Art of Rap Tour alongside legends like Public Enemy, Mobb Deep and Ice-T, and to cap that off he put out, “M.I.A.,” his best single since he left town. Produced by Y2, “M.I.A.” has an otherworldly feel, its hook coming from a ghostly synth, the beat jagged and stuttering. Kydd’s approach to the verses is bold and risky, working in a separate rhythm from the beat itself, his voice frequently dropping out and switching cadences. But it pays off, making the already unique aesthetic of the track that much more engaging and unusual.
Lil T- “All I Know”
Lil T isn’t as prominent as Kydd yet but he’s a sign of how an increasing number of Austin hip hop acts aren’t that far behind Kydd in terms of national-ready talent. T’s new track “All I Know” is a hit in waiting thanks to the double assault of Boz’s cataclysmic beat and T’s impressively limber flow. Musically, “All I Know” is proof of the power of simplicity, sticking mainly to a hyper addictive piano hook sample and forceful percussion that expands and contracts. Lil T turns in a ferocious vocal performance, though, hitting the verses with antagonistic fervor before moving into a lilting, sing song style for the chorus. Every element of “All I Know” is explosive and leaves little doubt that Codeine Margaritas, the album it teases, is going to hit the scene hard.
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