Latest Toughs: Abhi the Nomad, Stat 1, Melat and more

by Nick Hanover

Latest Toughs

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.

Abhi the Nomad “Sex and Drugs (ft. Harrison Sands and Copper King)”

The current avalanche of think pieces about the “scourge” of mumble rap might give you the impression that every up and comer has a mouth full of cotton and is backed up exclusively by beats that will make you think your speakers have melted. So it goes with any mildly menacing new subgenre that’s never quite as bad or as all-encompassing as the haters would have you believe. But if you remain fearful, new Austin resident Abhi the Nomad is here for your salvation. Abhi’s album Marbled is full of classic sounds but avoids the dreaded throwback territory, particularly on “Sex and Drugs,” where Abhi’s buttery tone and self-deprecating lyrics shine over a beat the Dungeon Family would covet. An unflinching examination of excess and greed that remains too fun to be considered preachy, “Sex and Drugs” is a wonderful introduction to a new talent who would stand out from the pack in any era.

The Reeks “Apathy”

Usually if I were to come across a punk song called “Apathy,” I’d shut that shit down before my eyes rolled permanently back inside my head. But the Reeks are not just any punk band, and Aaron Goldman is not just any lyricist. In the hands of Goldman and the Reeks, “Apathy” is as devastating as it is blistering, condemning a former friend who let the relationship die from lack of care while the band rages on like early Against Me!. What makes it hit that much harder is the empathy that remains in the lyrics– this isn’t just a sloppy mess of savage one liners over lunk headed riffs, it’s hook-filled punk that aches with the intensity of real feelings and real disappointment. That’s more powerful than any of the anti-sheeple punk anthems that one usually encounters under the name “apathy.”

Brother Sports “I’ll Wait for You”

If you had told me at the start of the 21st century that one day someone would combine the Strokes’ lo-fi detachment with the breezy nostalgia of Cornershop, I would be, uh, very confused. Yet here we are in 2018, where Brother Sports have done just that and I am Very Into It. I suspect a big part of why “I’ll Wait for You” works for me is because the cozy sweater fuzz of the vocal is applied to the whole damn mix, sustaining the “daydream from 18 years ago” vibe of the track. The vocal sounds like a scratch track, something muttered into a tape recorder on a bedside table late at night, contrasting nicely with the confidence of the instrumentation, which is itself covered in hiss and filters so it sounds as though each component has been sampled untold times. But instead of any of this coming across as a forced, gimmicky aesthetic, it feels perfectly natural and warm, making it ideal for weeks like this, where the weather makes one last winter dive before the wet spring emerges.

Stat 1 “When the Smoke Clears”

Stat 1 is at his best when he’s got something to prove, so shout out to whoever got him riled up before he recorded “When the Smoke Clears.” The single has Stat 1 calling for a return to “a time when the bar was set higher,” so he sets out to lead the way and “give these young minds something to admire,” joining forces with Black DaVinciii to churn out the rare old school track that burns with competitive fury. Stat has worked with any number of local luminaries but DaVinciii brings out the best in his flow thanks to some choice interplay between Stat and the Terry Riley-esque piano lick that holds the beat together. The whole thing feels effortless, like two veterans goofing off in the studio together and casually creating a hit. And what better way to prove you’re ahead of the pack than destroying the competition without breaking a sweat?

Mélat “Push”

When it comes to effortlessly cool Austin artists, Mélat sets the standard, particularly on her collaborations with Jansport J. The duo operate like an ATX spin on Aaliyah and Timbaland, only with sunnier dispositions and thankfully fewer baby gurgle samples. “Push,” the lead off single from their new album Move Me II: The Present, is a three and a half minute vacation to some fantasy locale, Mélat’s velvety melodies functioning like citrus scented breezes, relaxing and uplifting you until all those work week stresses melt away. Jansport J is a gifted arranger, carefully balancing Mélat’s main vocal and her self-provided harmonies as well as layers of twinkling electric pianos, light percussion and island guitar, drawing out the subtle power of her voice while leaving plenty of room for her to let its airier qualities float to the surface. “Push” isn’t just a single, its pop as a luxurious getaway.

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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