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.
Chucky BLK “Scorpio SZN”
Bossa nova tends to soundtrack happy escape, lush getaways to tropical places where citrusy drinks flow freely. But on Chucky BLK’s “Scorpio SZN” it is instead the soundtrack of feeling cautiously optimistic for your own future, with Chucky opening things up by declaring “Hello earthlings, I’m a quarter century old/Heads or tails if I can make it past my 30s that’d be dope,” the cynicism a stark contrast to the buoyancy of the production. But when the beat kicks in in full, Chucky’s confidence does too, calling out competitors who are “etched in clouds” while he’s “etched in stars.” Seasons come and go, but Chucky’s point is clear: while his season is here, he’s damn well gonna make the best of it.
Gleeson “Holding On”
The more members above, let’s say four, a band has, the more likely it is my interest will wane. At seven members and an absurd number of guests, Gleeson was not a band I expected to get more than a 30 second play from me. But “Holding On,” the opening track from their new album The Years Have It, has lot working in its favor to hold my interest. Taking a Fucked Up style approach to hook driven indie rock, Gleeson use their numbers to create muscle mass rather than bloat, which works exceptionally well in service to Elyse Estrada’s sweet yet powerful voice and melodies. And unlike most bands with a plethora of members, Gleeson mostly adhere to two and three minute run times, cramming their tracks with catchy ideas rather than detours and wankery.
Clark Twain “Tiny Windows”
All hail the power of a perfect lead guitar line. I’m not talking about a Rat pedal riff or the ever dreaded solo, just a simple, expressive trilling of notes that conveys the emotions left unsaid between lyrics. Case in point: Clark Twain’s “Tiny Windows,” where the opening guitar line sets the romantic restlessness of the song up perfectly. The forlorn vocals and anxious beat of course do their part in selling the lyrics’ dismay at a partner who’s always keeping an eye out for something better but it’s that lead guitar that perfectly captures the stomach pang nervousness of being uncertain in love. Play, flutter, repeat.
(Thisis)Redeye “A Name to a Face”
You could fill a decently sized island with the number of scruffy young men who discovered Bruce Springsteen and lo-fi recording at the same time and decided to go all in on twee masculinity. But only a handful would survive any trip off that island to the unforgiving landmass that is Actually Being Interesting. Going off moniker alone, you wouldn’t think (Thisis)Redeye would be one of those lucky few, but the startling “A Name to a Face” proves that assumption untrue. Simply produced and not guilty of the try hardisms that like minded peers indulge in, “A Name to a Face” has the feel of a flea market treasure, dusty and ramshackle but also timeless and captivating. The key component is Redeye’s voice, booming and sensitive and true, possessing depth and character that is all too rare. You can tell that Redeye has been places, but better yet, you can tell he’s still got even greater places to go.
Click-Clack “The Times”
On the whole, Click-Clack’s new album Blue Eyed Black Boy is a major step up for the veteran emcee, with Ballteam’s adventurous production bringing out a jaw dropping amount of variety in Click-Clack’s style. “The Times” sums it up pretty well, with Click-Clack utilizing a highly seductive combination of menacing and sensual in his vocal delivery as he talks up oral pleasures over a trip-hop-gone-trap beat. Lyrically and sonically, “The Times” is the work of an artist who has fully come into his own, honing his strengths to unprecedented sharpness while either eradicating weaknesses or turning them into strengths of their own. Consider this a late dark horse entry for track of the year.
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