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 bands to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.
Normally you’d expect a song called “Smile” to be something sappy and upbeat, but one of the most appealing aspects of fuvk is her ability to flip common songwriting tropes on their head to better explore the volatility of longing. “Smile” is one of fuvk’s catchiest songs, an appropriate trait for a work that grants its titular expression an almost narcotic quality, but the airy production and the sighing quality of fuvk’s voice imbue the song with the weight of a Swedish melodrama. Over a hopscotch beat and melody, fuvk’s voice and guitar line tug on heartstrings, mimicking the flutter you get when the object of your affection gives you a smile, each line leaving room for the desperate gasp of the unrequited.
Mujeres Podridas “Sobredosis”
Mujeres Podridas are the first hardcore band in a while to make me drop what I’m doing so I can focus on the individual elements of their music. “Sobredosis,” the title track from their new EP, is a perfect example of why that is: the song is a blistering mix of post-punk lead guitar, slap-back reverb saturated vocals and more traditional hardcore rhythm, a startling contrast between where hardcore has been for ages and where it could head in the future. The anger and the energy of the genre isn’t dialed back at all but by tweaking the formula in new and inventive ways, Mujeres Podridas command attention and force you to keep coming back to their work. Hopefully this is the shape of punk to come in 2018.
Mujeres Podridas play Beerland on Thursday, March 29th for their tour kick off.
Street Sects “In Contempt”
Giddily violent and perversely theatrical, Street Sects’ “In Contempt” sounds like it’s designed to soundtrack our inevitable demise at the hands of a rogue AI. The skittering beat and atomizing synth are brutal enough before the vocals shift from moody monologuing to full on modem screech but its most disquieting moment comes in the bridge into the final chorus, as the vocal morphs into a suave coo while the instruments deceptively calm down, stripped to their bare essentials. Then all hell breaks loose one last time.
ByPass “ByPass Clan”
ByPass isn’t your normal massive hip hop ensemble. The group brings together the Austin and French hip hop communities, pairing hometown heroes Mindz of a Different Kind and their European compatriots Pantone as well as dynamic local producer Flobama and France’s Spectateur. Their debut EP Frontier is full of moments showcasing the strength of their alliance but opening call to arms “ByPass Clan” is collaboration at its most fruitful and fun. The no-frills, string-packed beat allows both crews to effortlessly shine before coming together to chant their joint moniker, making for an excellent introduction to the project as well as a perfect showcase of why they were moved to work together. Austin hip hop might not have made its mark on the national charts yet but ByPass proves that it more than holds its own internationally.
I have a hard time saying no to indie rock performed by moody boys drunkenly slurring their words while their guitar does little fuzzy temper tantrums. Telecom’s “Quitter” is about as ideal a representation of this mini-genre as I could ask for, beginning with the admission “But I lied, I was too gone/You were too cautious,” continuing on to the bratty chorus, where the boy in question protests “It doesn’t fucking matter” even as everything– from the loopy synth melody to the sighed request to “Give me one chance to fight”– makes it clear it actually does fucking matter. There’s a purity to what Telecom does that makes it near impossible to say no to him, the contrast of the surly vocals and the self-assured, bouncy instrumentation as devastating as any pouty lip, hand combed hair combo. He can say he’s a quitter all he wants, but you know you’re at least going to try to make him stick around for a while anyway.
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