Latest Toughs: BLXPLTN, Palo Duro, FOOLS 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.

Ultra Realist “Do What You Want”

I don’t think I ate anything this weekend that didn’t involve shitloads of cheese. Pizza, tacos, queso, cheese fries, you get the picture. It was unquestionably a bad decision but I needed a weekend of bad decisions, consequences be damned. So now that we’re heading into the week and all its responsibilities, I’m turning to Ultra Realist’s “Do What You Want” to be some kind of anthem for bacchanalian impulses in the face of catastrophe. It’s not just that the song’s endless repetition of its own title applies, the production itself is a glorious buffet of delightful sounds and textures, a fusion of fanciful vintage toy noises, glitched out percussion and cartoon melodies serving as a quick endorphin boost. Ultra Realist can’t save me from feeling like garbage for the rest of the week, but at least he’s provided a soundtrack that will keep me reasonably distracted from my dairy-based self-destruction and what provoked it.

BLXPLTN “Education Destruction”

The sonic qualities of BLXPLTN’s music tend to get the most attention but it’s their commitment to telling the kind of truths that are erased or covered up in America that makes them such a potent and necessary act. The group’s latest single “Education Destruction” exemplifies that, laying into the American education system and the way it’s presented as necessary despite the fact that it teaches a version of history that erases the achievements of people of color and minimizes the harm our country continues to inflict on those populations. “Education Destruction” also happens to be absolutely devastating on the sonic level, the beat coming as much from submarine radar pings and scratchy guitar as  any actual percussion, like Martin Hannett producing early Fugazi. The band’s masterful New York Fascist Week succeeded in part because of the diversity of sound it offered but “Education Destruction” provides a different kind of thrill, directly channeling the anger over education manipulation into primal screams and shock and awe guitars, taking a back to basics approach to BLXPLTN’s core sound. And with righteous fury serving as the driving force for so many in this bleak new era, that’s a very welcome return indeed.

BLXPLTN play November 16th at Barracuda with Machine Girl and more.

Young Tongue “Electric Display”

Adulthood in Austin music mostly comes down to embracing poverty, of shrugging your shoulders at another $35 door pay out and concocting strategies for getting more than the bare minimum number of drink tickets. As Stu Baker puts it on Young Tongue’s new melancholy dream pop single “Electric Display,” “My life’s a public display/Of what it means to be American/And dream it all away on a lie,” where you’re lucky if you make $13k in a year and you spend it all “like a millionaire” anyway. With its talk of not just poverty but also valleys of death and beasts, it might seem like “Electric Display” would be a horrible downer of epic proportions. But the celestial synths and anthemic build of the bass and guitars helps put Baker’s lyrics in the proper context, that of finding happiness in your passion despite the costs and exhaustion of just trying to get by in a dessicated America.

Young Tongue play Pongo’s EP Release show at the Sidewinder on November 18th.

Palo Duro “True Fade”

The bulk of Palo Duro’s new album Ryou Cannon is densely packed and ornate, full of sonic detours and hidden corners, a showcase for Michael J. Winningham’s ever shifting universe of ideas. But its most beautiful moment comes from “True Fade,” where all of the layers of the surrounding tracks are stripped away and all that’s left is Winningham’s romantic vocals, sparkling instrumental melodies and a perfect beat. “True Fade” is simple in its execution but complicated and deep in the emotion it draws out, Winningham’s delivery only slightly above a whisper, sweet nothings subtly rising out of the cacophony of the night to comfort an anxious lover. So much Austin music this year has thrived on chaos in some way but Palo Duro aims for comfort and solace with “True Fade” and succeeds in delivering a song that instills refreshing hope and tranquility.

Palo Duro will be performing in-store at Waterloo Records this Thursday, November 9th.

FOOLS “Bad Reception”

If you haven’t caught FOOLS’ live show yet, you’re missing out on one of the best parties in Austin, a rambunctious mess of sweat, riffs and fist pumping cheer that never ends, it only relocates. It’s also the sort of performance that makes you worry for any recorded version of a band. How can you possibly get all of that delightful chaos down on tape? Somehow, “Bad Reception,” which you can currently find on Outer Limits’ Instant Leftovers Vol. 2 compilation, pulls it off. A thrilling collission of glam theatrics and punk brattiness, “Bad Reception” is an anthem for being “married to an idea” of being perpetually fucked up, of living in a neverending teenage wasteland. It’s over in barely more than two minutes and yet somehow manages to take you on a tour of FOOLS’ entire range, from its pummeling Buzzcocks-esque intro to pub chant verses and an unexpectedly calm bridge. Other songs might provide a rollercoaster of emotions but with “Bad Reception” FOOLS provide an actual rollercoaster.

FOOLS play Hotel Vegas on November 15th with Psychotic Reaction and more.

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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