by Nick Hanover
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.
Duncan Fellows “Cursive”
Like a lot of other millennials who came of age in Texas towns too big to be small, too small to be cities, I spent a lot of time aimlessly riding around in cars, playing homemade mix cd-rs on the stereo of a friend’s grandma’s Crown Vic. Duncan Fellows were probably all still in elementary school back then (fuck, i’m old now, aren’t i?) but if they had been in their 20s instead and on some now defunct indie label, I’m certain “Cursive” would be in regular rotation as we drove around the farm roads and Taco Bell drive-thrus. Raspy and yearning, “Cursive” is perfectly constructed for that classic teen paradox of being driven and aimless, desperate to do something but unwilling or unable to figure out what something even means. So instead you stay forever driving, guitar licks floating out into the night, disturbing no one else but bemused cattle.
Frosty Palms “Whethering”
I don’t care how many friendships it costs me I will never stop engaging in groan inducing wordplay. Which I suppose makes me a perfect audience for Frosty Palms’ puntastic “Whethering,” a blissed out anthem about how little moving across the country for better weather actually accomplishes, life improvement-wise. With its Byrds guitars and lo-fi vocals, “Whethering” has the feel of sunny California garage pop, but lyrically it’s drenched in that distinctly Austin distaste for all things California, with the acid-tinged line “You stare at that blue ocean/And find you’ve nothing to say.” Frosty Palms may sound warm and cuddly, but they’re as sharp as any cactus between here and LA.
Hermit Kingdom “Breathe In; Breathe Out”
A few years back, the Austin hip hop scene was heavy on weird and psych-tinged production with off-kilter flows and the nascent collective Hermit Kingdom were a major component of that. So you would be forgiven for expecting their full length debut Tarot to sound, well, a little behind the times. But, as showcase track “Breathe In; Breathe Out” proves, the group remains fresh and exciting– if anything, they sound even more unique now. An ear catching mix of gun shot sounds and soft jazz samples, “Breathe In; Breathe Out” fits in better with the oddball Hellfyre Club scene than Austin breakouts like Teeta or Quin NFN, but there is an aggressiveness to Philos’s flow, in particular, that proves those two scenes have more in common than they might think.
Click Clack “Sequence”
The last time I fell in love with an electro-pop song about cannibals it was by mischievous synth punk pioneers The Units. Socha is too warm and emotive to be a synth punk, though, so her “Cannibals” is romantic and aspirational, the flesh eating at its center a metaphor for passionate kissing and “the agony of bliss,” of feeling like being in love also means being consumed. More open and executed with a rawness that heavily contrasts with the diamond precision of the rest of Socha’s Musings series of singles, “Cannibals” is a song for the still sleepy moment when you wake up beside someone and realize you don’t want them to leave, not then, maybe not ever. And that’s as beautiful as it is frightening.
Got a single you’d like to be considered for Latest Toughs? Email us with Latest Toughs in the subject!
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