Latest Toughs: Pema, US Weekly, Tina She and more

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 bands to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.

Hardcore Sex- “Down My Throat”

Austin takes its weirdness so seriously it often sacrifices sexiness in the process. So I was pretty fucking excited to come across a woman-fronted band literally calling itself Hardcore Sex. The duo is unapologetically explicit not just in name but in lyrics as well, with “Down My Throat” functioning as an anthem, opening with the line “I wanna fuck the shit outta you,” only getting more intense from there, detailing rough sex full of choking and dominance. The music itself is rough and dominant too, like early Kills but with raw, primitive drumming instead of a drum machine, the guitar bassier and grimier. Hardcore Sex can’t solve Austin’s erotic deficiency all by themselves, obviously, but they’ve already put a thaw in our city’s frigidness.

US Weekly- “Wallowing”

On their new Imploading mini-EP, angular punks US Weekly show off a healthy increase in Fugazi influence, particularly on standout track “Wallowing.” Where the band’s previous recorded output skewed more towards the Pixies by way of Shellac (and elsewhere on Imploading the band even namechecks mutant disco legend Arthur Russell), “Wallowing” has the shoutalong choruses and bass-heavy assault of In On the Kill Taker Fugazi filtered through Christopher Nordahl’s trademark mush mouth howling and Ryan Curtis and Kent Hale’s disjointed rhythms. The production is a little murkier this time out, so Ryan Fitzgibbon’s guitar isn’t as crisp as it should be, but even that works towards building a claustrophobic atmosphere on the song. All told, “Wallowing” is a strong sign that US Weekly are becoming more toothsome as they age. Also, shout out to Curtis for once again putting out the best looking cover art in the city.

Tina She- “Time”

Veteran hip hop songstress Tina She will be releasing a new self-titled solo album later this month, teaming with DJ Pain 1 to craft some impeccably crafted R&B. “Time” is the first single Tina She has teased from the album and it does a fantastic job building up excitement for the full length, with Tina She’s vocal delivery recalling Dessa while Pain 1’s production leans closer to classic hip hop styles. Structured around a smoky electric piano line and rumbling bass, the track gives plenty of room for Tina She to show off her technical chops and knack for addictive melodies. If the full length can keep up this level of quality, Tina She’s solo effort will likely be one of the most impressive albums by a local act this year.

Pema- “Not Looking for Love”

Going back to the “keep Austin sexy” theme, last week Pema released “Not Looking for Love,” an ode to disposable one night stands and how useful they can be for getting rough times. Pema puts her needs in blunt terms, telling a lover named Charlie “If I need you more than once/Then I’ll call you back.” The Artemis Glow’s production keeps everything poppy and hazy, mirroring the lyrics’ need for a “good time” as well as the internal conflict over putting one’s needs ahead of expectations and past habits. By the end, after a breakdown mimicking a climax, Pema still isn’t looking for love, but she has found her good time.

Jonny Jukebox- “Summin’ (ft. Puffinlye)”

Over the past couple years, a solid club hip hop scene has been building up in Austin, with LNS Crew luminaries Corey Kendrix and Ana Love carving out an ominous aesthetic on their excellent EP Worth Something that appears to have influenced newcomers like Jonny Jukebox. Jukebox’s new album Adonis XIV shows how the darker club hip hop of Austin can be brought even further into the mainstream, particularly on standout tracks like “Summin’,” which features a great Puffinlye feature and a Michael Jackson musical nod. “Summin'” is a slinky tribute to locking eyes on the dancefloor, with Jukebox’s velvety smooth vocal working as an excellent contrast to the shadowy beat. The eerie synth stabs happening in the back of the mix also give the song a great edge and help it stand out from more cookie cutter club tracks. Though Jukebox could stand to get a bit more adventurous with his arrangements, “Summin'” is worth putting on repeat before any Friday night adventures.