The Latest Toughs: Bird Peterson, Good Field, Phranchyze and More

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.

Bird Peterson- “Sugarface (ft. Astronautalis)”

Bird Peterson’s upcoming debut LP Plume is a smartly curated sampling not just of Bird Peterson’s myriad production styles but also of some of his most promising curators, many of them, like Keeper and Space Camp Death Squad, even Austin-based. Outside of the hotness that is Space Camp’s “Chuck Roast,” the Bird track that’s getting the most play from me is “Sugarface,” his collab with the Minneapolis-based wunderkind Astronautalis. Astronautalis’ main work is split more evenly between melody and displays of verbal dexterity, but “Sugarface” is Astronautalis in hip hop history mode, chipping away at mythical notions of pharmaceuticals, like Tom Waits’ “Romeo is Bleeding” gone trap. “Now every fucking song you hear is about some molly,” Astronautalis says with clear disdain, so the question is whether the dubstep breakdown Bird drops in the chorus is of the tongue in cheek or hypocritical variety. However genuine the historical diatribe is or isn’t (I’m guessing plenty genuine, since Bird has publicly called Plume his final word on trap), “Sugarface” ranks as one of the most interesting experiments from either collaborator, and an easy stand out on an album with no shortage of jaw droppers.


Bateau- “Downtown (Houston)”

Riding around aimlessly at night is a teenage tradition going back to the advent of the age group (so all the way back to the mid-20th century, basically) but I’d argue in Harris County we took it a bit more religiously than where you and yours are from. Houston and its outlying zones are built by, for and around driving, its roads a circulatory system that have burst through the boundaries of the flesh to consume the body whole. That tradition is what gets mined by H-town transplant Bateau on “Dowtown,” her beautifully venomous voice detailing lax rides around the back ways while getting drunk at 17, the reminiscing given an erotically charged undercurrent by HADES’ trip hop beat. Beaumont might have been the outlying area that got the surprise True Detective cameo, but “Downtown” makes a good case for Houston as a future southern gothic noir backdrop. And beyond that it makes a case for Bateau as a new Houston influencer for Austin, an artist with a sound far more addictive than any watered down chopped and screwed derivatives.


Good Field- “Business”

This isn’t a query that keeps me up at night or anything, but I spend a fair amount of time wondering why the fuck America never caught on to the wonder that is Sloan. I listen to something like “People of the Sky” and dream of a world where Sloan are held up like the power pop answer to Pavement and hordes of hungry critics pitch 33 1/3 books on Twice Removed and One Chord to Another. Then I remember the time some dipshit older teen I used to hang out with in my Houston wild years casually dismissed the group when we saw them open for Coldplay or some other far larger, far more terrible band, remarking that they weren’t “as exciting as The Strokes” and the dream is ruined. I’m not going to say Good Field’s “Business” fixes all that bad history, it’s just that when I hear this song from the Voxtrot spinoff project I feel a little warmer inside, like maybe Good Field can achieve some modicum of success that Sloan never managed around here. That Rickenbacker chime, that loose yet on point rhythm, the slack sweet vocals, “Business” is a nostalgia trip I don’t hesitate to embrace and I’m hoping you won’t either.


BOAN- “Babylon”

Holodeck supergroup BOAN released their debut album Mentiras at the start of the month and I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m just now getting around to it. A new collaboration from former Medio Mutante partners José Cota and Mariana Saldaña, BOAN has a fair amount of influence from Cota’s post-MM project ssleeperhold. Except here, it’s less of a John Carpenter instrumental trip, the dark synths augmented by pummeling drum machines and a punk vibe, like something from Thunderdome. On “Freak Snake,” Saldaña’s vocals have an especially feverish quality to them, wandering from shout to murmur to chant, not so much melodic as intense and unpredictable. Like basically everything Holodeck has done, Mentiras is not only notable for its willingness to experiment with new sounds but for the impeccable craft it displays, functioning as a work that disrupts expectations of dark synth music and is still emotive rather than strictly theoretical.


Phranchyze- “GOML”

Truth be told, I couldn’t get into Phranchyze’s recent #TheAnimeTape. The production was mostly strong but Phranchyze himself seemed unfocused, as though he didn’t quite grasp his own concept. “GOML,” as in Get On My Level, popped up a couple weeks ago and already it’s a huge improvement on the mixtape it’s thematically connected to, showing off Phranchyze in peak battler form, spurred on by a glitchy 8bit beat, or as Phranchyze calls it “some Akira shit, but black.” The beat itself deserves a lot of credit here, it’s the kind of production that would make even the sleepiest emcee power up. As Phranchyze fans who have seen the artist freestyle know, though, Phranchyze has a lot of verbal power at his disposal, which is what made The Anime Tape so disappointing for the most part. If “GOML” is any indication of what’s to come, Phranchyze is urging everyone to get on his level because he just leveled up himself.

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