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.
Corey Arnell “M-O-V-E”
Dusty breakbeats, jazzy piano samples and 8bit synths all cheerfully share space in Corey Arnell‘s music, making him some kind of beat scene twist on a superhero lost in the time stream, plucking ideas and hooks from every pop decade at once. “M-O-V-E,” from Arnell’s new mixtape My Brain Grew Legs and Walked Away, is one of the most effective examples of Arnell’s unique style, with a rickety beat and a Final Fantasy arp line complementing the laid back but confident vocals. The lyrics bluntly confront everything from cultural appropriation to blindly following people just because they look like you but the breezy production and cavalcade of aesthetics make it go down easy.
Name Sayers “Heron King”
I don’t know the last time a lyric filled me with as much dread as “If you’ve got so many questions/Why you asking them so slow?” does on Name Sayers’ “Heron King.” So much of Namesayers’ music has a pre-apocalyptic feel to it, guitars and strings and saws drifting up from somewhere best left undiscovered while Devin James Fry speaks to you in the alternately soothing and terrifying tones of a tent revival preacher. But “Heron King” has the feverish quality of the dying testimony of the lone survivor of a world ending war, Fry’s voice shifting in and out of clarity and stability, the rhythm section doing its best to instill the nausea of heavy blood loss in you as you try to make out his warnings and more specifically whether they’re in reference to something he escaped or something trying to escape out of him. Tune in and be prepared to drop out of existence altogether.
Kydd Jones “War Paint”
LNS Crew star Kydd Jones has garnered more national attention than most Austin hip hop hopefuls for one very important reason: he is eerily talented at taking mainstream sounds and seamlessly integrating them into his own distinct style. In the case of Kydd’s new single “War Paint,” the sound is “woe is me” flavor Drake, with Insightful providing appropriately moody tropical production as Kydd details his issues with “a devil in a red dress.” But Kydd is more dextrous than Drake has ever managed to be, so even through the autotune and general haze there’s no missing the swagger and swerve of Kydd’s delivery as he takes every percussive idea floating in the mix and twists his flow to emulate it.
Little Father “Violence”
Big Black by way of Manchester instead of Chicago. New Order fronted by Trent Reznor. Whatever combination of savage industrial electronics and gorgeous melodies floats your boat to describe Little Father, all that really matters is that you listen to “Violence” and be appropriately awed by it and then kick yourself for not supporting this duo more now that they’re essentially defunct. While Little Father’s EP 3 doesn’t quite capture the intensity and passion of their live shows– how could it, honestly?– “Violence” in particular still packs one hell of a punch, quite literally in the case of that sledgehammer drum machine. But what differentiates Little Father from so many other Albini worshipping local acts is their embrace of melody, with Brandt Kempin’s bass and Bennett Mains’ guitar twisting around each other and the surrounding torrents of noise with interlocking notes and duelling riffs. Kempin’s vocals in turn strike a balance between the extremity of the rhythms and the barbed wire gentleness of the riffs, simmering and whispering on the verses only to explode outward at unexpected moments. “Violence” is the apotheosis of their approach, nearly five straight minutes of unrelenting catharsis and decadent anguish, good luck ever getting it out of your head.
Poolboi Blu “Pikachu”
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