Latest Toughs: Genuine Leather, Royal Highness 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.

Niki FM “Black Metal Poser”

My girlfriend listens to ASMR videos on repeat to help her fall asleep but sometimes I’ll wander by our bedroom and hear the mouth sounds gurgling out from underneath the door and suffer a momentary panic, wondering who or what is in the house with us. One person’s relaxation technique is another’s nightmare fuel. In a sense, Niki FM’s track “Black Metal Poser” is ASMR folk, every inhalation and movement of tongue across teeth emphasized by the compression and startling quiet of the instruments. But it’s also about spying on someone else’s anti-insomnia measures, specifically the black metal poser of the title, “walking down Columbus Avenue” listening to the same bands on repeat, “wondering why he just can’t fall asleep.” Niki FM’s sound is sparseness defined but it wrings as much power out of what’s withheld. In the case of “Black Metal Poser,” it’s the closing almost rhyme to “on repeat,” forcing us to suffer the same fate as the poser, waiting, perhaps in vain, for sleep.

Chango “You’ll be Alright Tho”

I imagine “You’ll be Alright Tho” is a title meant with a heavy degree of sarcasm. Everything about the Chango single hints at things being maybe not catastrophic but nonetheless distinctly not alright, its only constant element a warbling horror film synth, the kind of thing quietly emanating from a run down house you know you shouldn’t explore. When the cavernous bass and glitched out vocal samples emerge, things get catchier but still not necessarily alright, solidifying the track’s status as a eerie beat to have a nervous breakdown to.

Hey Jellie “I”MDEAD”

Austin’s current infatuation with all things darkwave has been both a blessing and curse. On one end, it’s nice to get a respite from the seemingly endless wave of garage and psych rock acolytes. On the other, Austin darkwave is becoming almost as homogenous as those two scenes. Thank fuck, then, for artists like Hey Jellie, who aren’t afraid to explore elements that often get overlooked in darkwave, like melody and less claustrophobic mixing. “I”MDEAD” has the feel of a lullaby for Rosemary’s baby, its melody built to draw out unrest rather than stifle it, that effect all the more pronounced with the loping, metallic percussion and humming bass. It’s a song that hypnotizes you immediately, preparing you for use by sinister forces from some other realm.

Genuine Leather “This Town”

It’s a testament to Genuine Leather’s songwriting that “This Town” is both one of the busiest and most enjoyable songs I’ve heard all year. Without breaking the three minute barrier, the band crams in an album’s worth of drum fills, riffs and chord changes and yet it never gets exhausting. Instead it serves as a refreshing trip down memory lane in some classic rock town where the only day that really ever matters is Saturday, Saturday, Saturday. You can practically smell the booze wafting out of it through your headphones but fortunately for you, there’s no risk of the inevitable hangover making its way out to you as well. Suds up, gang.

Royal Highness “Energy (Cumbia Far Away)”

I’d personally never think to throw Skepta’s post-apocalyptic grime track “Energy” over a cumbia beat but that’s why Royal Highness gets paid the big bucks and I just write about it. Skepta’s original was a knives out attack on clubgoers who come out for a show and don’t bring the right energy, and while Royal Highness’ chill, tropical instrumentation considerably softens that attack, the message is more or less still the same: don’t kill this party’s vibe. Or to put it another way, the key difference is that Royal Highness’ “Energy” pairs best with a glass of Ron Medellin Añejo on the rocks rather than a vodka Red Bull.
Got a single you’d like to be considered for Latest Toughs? Email us with Latest Toughs in the subject!

Buy Me a Coffee at

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