Latest Toughs: Knifight, Löwin, Jonny Jukebox 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.

Malik Elijah & Ciro Mont “Dope”

I am missing the space between sounds. Lately everything is so bombastic, the cacophony of the app age, alarms and skronk and buzz and hum, barking voices, demands for attention. So I am thankful for the bliss of Malik Elijah & Ciro Mont’s “Dope,” filled as it is with the warmth of a leaf crackling sample, electric piano riffs and droopy voices seeking out purple haze relaxation over a perky but laid back beat. Better yet, its chorus is on some ASMR trip, the vocal dropping shoulders, telling you in a rumbly monotone to “let it go, let it go, let it go.” I’m not one to argue that.

Corinne Bates “Little Drummer Boy”

There is no easy cure for the uniquely shitty feeling that is being ignored by someone you can’t stop thinking about. All you can do is try not to think about them but that never quite works, does it? So instead you do things like try to assert some kind of authority over the feeling, turning the thoughts into fuel for fantasies or art. Corinne Bates does a bit of both in the superb “Little Drummer Boy,” singing about getting off to the memory of a lover who won’t return their calls and then being too sad to fall asleep in the guilty afterglow. Bates is capable of turning that hurt and resentment into something more beautiful and powerful than most through the simple but devastating combination of insistently strummed acoustic guitar and baritone voice, the wordless chorus gut wrenching not because of a message communicated through lyrics but through the quenched jaw quavering of what’s left unsaid. In the end, Bates may not get a return on those calls but they do get to keep some books on the top shelf and one hell of a song.

Knifight “Can You Hear Me”

Knifight self-describe as “arena wave” and that’s never felt truer than on “Can You Hear Me” from their LP Worship. Fusing together the band’s knack for early Depeche Mode synth hooks and Billy Idol fist-pumping vocals, “Can You Hear Me” would have fit right in at the original Wembley Stadium circa 1985. But what’s perhaps most impressive is that it still feels lively and fresh– this isn’t a hokey throwback or a lazy replica, it’s more a time dislodged anthem. And no matter what year you’re hearing it in, it’s bound to end up stuck in your brain for an eon or two.

Löwin “Sloop”

Löwin have excelled at making timeless indie rock since their inception, avoiding the pitfalls of trends and tropes by focusing on songcraft. “Sloop,” from the EP of the same name, is a perfect example of that, blending together both Paisley Underground shimmer and post-punk delay-drenched hooks, as well as buzzing synths and soaring vocals, every ingredient nodding to a different aspect of indie history but ultimately in service to what is at heart simply a damn good song. I guarantee this will be popping up on quite a few fall crush mixtapes.

Dan Sir Dan “Lick (ft. Jonny Jukebox)”

Woozy isn’t an adjective you see thrown around a lot in descriptions of unapologetically lusty singles but that’s undoubtedly the most applicable term for Dan Sir Dan and Jonny Jukebox’s ode to a different kind of lingual arts, “Lick.” Constructed from guitar and keyboard samples that sway with the bent leg stupor of being too turned on to function, “Lick” is one wolf call away from being a Tex Avery cartoon brought to musical life. Jukebox’s vocal isn’t the sound of a leering creep, though– the emphasis here is always on giving pleasure, of making sure a lucky someone slips into an orgasm induced coma before the evening is through. Good luck being able to walk yourself after it fades out.
Got a single you’d like to be considered for Latest Toughs? Email us with Latest Toughs in the subject!

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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