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 artists to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.
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Sammy Slims “God’s Friend”
In the grand ’80s synth pop influence Olympics, New Order currently seems to be sweeping up the most gold medals. It’s a relief, then, that Sammy Slims steers away from that on their new single “God’s Friend” to instead pull from the far less pillaged fields of Depeche Mode. With its dark instrumentation and smooth baritone, “God’s Friend” would be right at home on Some Great Reward, but Sammy Slims also take care to flesh the production out with modern elements, from the pitch shifted vocal samples that drop in and out to the glitched out breakdown. It all goes a long way towards proving there’s a lot more going on with Sammy Slims’ sound than the early Hot Chip-esque material indicated, indicating that Sammy Slims will only continue to display more depth and complexity.
Camp Life “Transparent Comfort”
It’s a pity Camp Life are apparently calling it quits with their new LP Quality Time because it feels like they’re really only just getting started. The accomplished emo-tinged indie rock band truly blossomed over the past couple years, morphing into a tight and challenging ensemble, like Built to Spill if they had come of age at Jade Tree. “Transparent Comfort,” the highlight of Quality Time, beautifully illustrates this, with interlocking guitars and inventive but not flashy drum work adding grit and musculature to the ramshackle lyrical vibe. I get the feeling that a few years down the line, Camp Life are going to be better appreciated by new audiences, a la Cap’n Jazz. But if you’re wise, you’ll celebrate them now.
Walker Lukens “Heard You Bought a House”
Lou Rebecca “Break It Apart”
“Shimmery” is the term I previously associated with the music of Lou Rebecca, a kind of synth pop that seduced with aquatic textures and bright pads of sound. But on “Break It Apart,” the lead off single from her upcoming album Restless, the new adjective of choice for Rebecca’s sound would be propulsive. Perhaps taking a cue from her former label mate and fellow French speaker Marie Davidson, Rebecca’s sound now seems designed to soundtrack a drive into a strange new city, with its piston rhythm and fist pumping synth bass. Rebecca’s voice is as divine as ever but the darkness surrounding it gives it an air of danger that’s as unsettling as it is alluring, less Arthurian vision than cyberpunk femme fatale.
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