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.
Kodachrome- “All There Is”
If you play enough fall sounding music, it might not change the temperature, but at least it presents a strong enough illusion to make you feel like it does. Hence my repeat listens of Kodachrome’s new EP Red, the first installment of an RGB triptych that I’m assuming will showcase Kodachrome’s lush, moody dream pop until the actual fall arrives. The highlight of Red is “All There Is,” an organ-driven autumnal pop number existing at the intersection of Broadcast and Chromatics. The song is built on mood and ambience more than chords, restricting itself to a relatively simple structure in order to emphasize the ethereal melody. The rest of the EP is looser in structure, but no less gorgeous.
Borzoi- “Worry Wart”
I spend a pretty depressing amount of my time in a state of worry, so it was very thoughtful of Borzoi to make a song that condenses all that unnecessary anxiety into one shoutalong anthem. “Worry Wart” is that anxious stomach rumble you feel when you’re tense translated into song, complete with a hook-y chorus that is more pleasing than the usual end result of that stomach rumbling, which for me often presents as a booze soaked evening culminating in projectile vomiting across various Austin streets. The guitars are more muffled and brutish than normal for Borzoi, but the way they’re yielded as fists in fits and starts makes them more engaging than flat. Ditto that megaphone filter over the vocals, which has the effect of mashing everything together in the mix, filling out every available inch of audio space to make “Worry Wart” impossible to ignore.
Caitlin Kraus-Torres- “Waiting for the World”
On her new single “Waiting for the World,” Caitlin-Kraus Torres’ sweetly shimmering voice rises out of an oceanic musical backing, giving the track a melancholic feel, like a reinterpretation of The Awakening’s bitter conclusion. Torres’ voice is powerful but not in a bombastic sense, it’s instead devastating in its emotional richness. The well-arranged strings that emerge after the beginning of the song aid in this, making “Waiting for the World” an excellent bit of chamber pop that stands out for the frequently unimaginatively produced singer songwriter tracks Austin is oversaturated with.
Caitlin Kraus-Torres’ single release party is this Thursday, June 16th at Salvage Vanguard Theatre with Molybden and others
Filthy- “Cure It”
Filthy is technically a San Antonio band but their Cure It EP was recorded in Austin and arguably fits in better with the dark wave emerging from Austin label Holodeck, albeit with a poppier frame. The title track in particular has a late night drive quality to it, like the Soft Moon channeling Bruce Springsteen, murderous and propulsive at once. Phantom voices ricochet in the back of the mix while a sludgy bass riff amplifies the murky melody of the lead vocal, all while an insistent drum machine beat keeps the motor running. So maybe it’s better to say “Cure It” is music for the drive between these two Texan metropolises, and for all the horrors that might wait in the darker areas of that corridor.
Kydd Jones- “Nothing to Play With”
First thing’s first: Kydd Jones’ new single “Nothing to Play With” has a fucking theremin providing its hook. Maybe a theremin has been used in a hip hop single before but I’m struggling to think of any previous examples, at least not any that make it as prominent as Brandon Blanco does with his beat for Kydd here. It’s further evidence of Kydd’s playfulness and how his willingness to experiment with new sounds has turned him into of Austin hip hop’s best hopes for succeeding on a major level (the move to Atlanta and constant New York appearances certainly help too). Even aside from that theremin novelty, “Nothing to Play With” is a thrill, a perfect bit of summer hip hop that has Kydd stepping back to let Blanco’s beat do most of the heavy lifting while he stretches back and casually spouts off lines asserting that he’s nothing to play with. And I’m inclined to agree.
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