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.
Greg Loftus- “Cinder and Soot”
How many weekends do you spend avoiding problems? I hope the answer is some variant of “most” so that I don’t feel quite as alone in my desperate need to partake in the grand American tradition of fleeing, metaphorically or literally. Maybe you flee to the bottom of a bottle. Or maybe you run away to a wet, messy stretch of town where no one knows your name because you’re another body on a crowded dance floor. Greg Loftus covers a lot of those escape plans on his startlingly potent new track “Cinder and Soot,” singing of his quest for “A bar that don’t want to be found/Somewhere in the dark/On the edge of this town,” the finger plucked guitar and wailing slide highlighting possible paths, the train rhythm at the core a reminder of the steady threat of problems’ pursuit. For Loftus, there are killers on the loose, “running like cowards from the crowded coast,” but it’s not clear if he’s avoiding them or looking to meet them in that least crowded of spaces, the desert. What the sorrow in Loftus and cohort Ben Ballinger’s voices does indicate is that realization that there are no real escapes, only a delay of the inevitable disintegration of all things into cinder and soot. Bleak for a Monday, but here near the end of a very bleak year, could anything be more appropriate?
The Dizzease- “Eat Cheap”
The Dizzease kick off their self-titled album with a song dedicated to a problem every Austinite should be familiar with: an addiction to cheap Mexican food. “Eat Cheap” is boldly innocent and dorky, a no-frills mixture of sweet multi-tracked vocals, barely distorted guitar, jaunty drums and a twee organ line. There is a bit of girl group influence to the start of the track but then “Eat Cheap” builds up to a sound more reminiscent of Postcard or K Records output, all endearing sincerity and appetizing metaphors. If you aren’t craving a taco by the end, you’re a stronger man than me.
Total Unicorn- “Hanuman”
Since I never really stop working, the middle of the week doesn’t really hold the same level of menace for me as it does for some of you. Still, I appreciate a good mid-week pick-me-up and lately Total Unicorn’s “Hanuman” has been filling that void quite nicely. Like all things Total Unicorn, it is perplexing and utterly bizarre. Starring a heavily mutated vocal that repeats “Hanuman the monkey man” over and over, “Hanuman” could be a single or it could be some accidental broadcast from the factory floor of some alternate simian reality. Despite some super wobbly synths and digital bubbles, it’s pretty to easy to dance to, as long as your dance style of choice mostly involves spastic limb flailing and monkey faces.
Harris the Terrorist (aka Haris Q) continues his assault on standard hip hop sounds with Sertified’s new single “Fresco,” a track that documents a torrid love affair between a mambo sample and a fat ass grimy beat. The song is a tease of what’s to come on the duo’s upcoming album Chips and Salsa, due out on the last day of the year because Sertified and Harris give no fucks. Sertified sounds hoarse and rugged on “Fresco,” a nice contrast with the smooth sensuality of the beat but I’d personally like Sertified’s vocal to be a bit clearer– his wordplay gets lost in the mix here, occasionally lapsing into a mush mouthed, somewhat dull flow. Even with that in mind “Fresco” is a flavorful dish from two of hip hop’s most promising sonic adventurers.
Sweet Spirit- “Christmastime is Over”
Despite what Starbucks and the calendar would have you believe, Sweet Spirit is here to let you know “Christmastime is Over” on their new holiday single. Your personal feelings on the holidays aside, “Christmastime is Over” is pretty irresistible, showcasing one of Sabrina Ellis’ subtlest vocal performances as she requests that her lover think beyond the holiday and “leave something I won’t find under the tree.” I assume what she means is a donation to Planned Parenthood, since that’s where 100% of the proceeds from this track are going, so you better buy it or risk being outed for a Scrooge.
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