Latest Toughs: Abram Shook, Christelle Bofale 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 artists to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.

Frosty Palms “Juniper St”

Band names usually don’t literally describe the music but Frosty Palms is about a perfect description of the artist’s style as you’ll encounter. The sound of Frosty Palms is a delicious concoction made from chill, laid back rhythms and desert tones, as revitalizing as a margarita on a triple digit day. On new single “Juniper St” the desert comes from the coyote howl of the guitar, and the wavering heat haze of the production, the frost from the detached vocal and post-punk bass. If there’s a comparison to be made, it would be to The Shins’ predecessor Flake Music, with the jangly guitar and almost baroque melodies. But Frosty Palms notably sounds more confident than James Mercer and company did that early in their careers.

Christelle Bofale “Origami Dreams”

The cover of Christelle Bofale’s Swim Team EP has the singer-songwriter lounging in the dark on a bean bag chair, yellow goggles pulled up over her head to show pastel eyeshadow that gives her an almost alien appearance even before you notice the space helmet-like bubble around her head. It’s a snapshot that efficiently communicates the ethereal and sweet music contained within, indicating that what you’re about to hear will feel otherworldly but also comforting, like visiting a place you’ve only ever seen in dreams. That’s particularly true of “Origami Dreams,” the fleet footed centerpiece of the EP. In “Origami Dreams,” Bofale’s voice calls out with melancholy restlessness from a haze of atmospheric guitar pings and percussion that recalls the chirps and hums of creatures of the night; when she sighs “Goodbye, I guess,” it’s with the knowledge that the recipient of the farewell won’t be leaving her thoughts any time soon, and neither will this song be leaving yours.

Socha “Go Wrongs”

The need to get away is fairly well trod ground in pop, especially when paired with doomed romance. But from the very start, Socha’s “Go Wrongs” offers up some novel spins on that trope, from Frenchie Smith’s unexpectedly glassy production to the paranoia laced throughout the lyrics suggesting the enemy is the narrator’s own head as much as any outside force and where do you go when your mind is what’s pursuing you? “I equate being alone/With being wrong, being broken” Socha sings early on, asking “Will I tear us apart?” The response comes not in the form of a statement but instead a tense back and forth between Orange Juice-style guitar and a disco beat, the tension only heightening as the song continues, until Socha can’t help but scream out “It’s me that’s gonna fuck this up, I know,” setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy while the beat remains aggressively stoic. Like the self-destruction and self-doubt it details, “Go Wrongs” is too magnetic to resist.

Teenage Cavegirl “Get Bent!”

It’s a pity Russ Meyer didn’t live long enough to see Teenage Cavegirl. The trash punk duo look and sound exactly like a Meyer creation, all howl and stomp and sunglass curves soundtracking revenge fantasies and wanton destruction. Teenage Cavegirl’s new album even has a decidedly Meyer-esque name: Candy Cigarettes. Every track on it could easily be dropped into a Meyer movie of your choice but “Get Bent!” is what I’d single out as the most fitting Meyer anthem, with its divebombing guitar, piston pumping beat and take no shit vocal. Hit play, get bent.

Abram Shook “Cocaine Blonde”

Abram Shook’s falsetto has never sounded as alluring and seductive as it does on “Cocaine Blonde,” where it impeccably personifies some hungry eyes shot across the dancefloor at the titular subject. On previous efforts, Shook’s voice sometimes struggled to cut through treble heavy mixes, with bright, jangly guitars and thin percussion competing with rather than augmenting his vocal style. But “Cocaine Blonde” has an emphatic bass and kick combo at its center, with plucky synth notes serving as the only other melodic component on the verses, the chorus opening up with crisp hi-hats and limited bursts of funk guitar as Shook calls out to that “c-c-c-cocaine blonde.” The end product is a hot summer night single that’s as addictive as its namesake.

Got a single you’d like to be considered for Latest Toughs? Email us with Latest Toughs in the subject!

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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