Latest Toughs: Makzey, fuvk, Fools 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.

Makzey “Rain Song”

I keep hoping the rise of Abhi the Nomad will lead to more of the local media paying attention to the truly astounding Austin pop scene. Then I remember it took most of the local media way too long to get around to Abhi at all and I bring my expectations back down to grim reality. But maybe things will happen a bit quicker than normal for Makzey. He’s got teen dream looks, for one, and his sound is situated in that perfect middle ground between Soundcloud idol grime and major hit factory smoothness. “Rain Song,” from his new full length Buzz Cuts, certainly sounds like the work of someone who knows they’re going to be a star and is just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Sensitive without being saccharine, “Rain Song” is a classic lonely hearted ballad made fresh by its eclectic instrumentation and dynamic arrangement, where creatively auto-tuned and flanged vocals harmonize with a crisp main vocal while a plethora of rhythmic components mirror both the pitter patter of raindrops and the bombast of thunderclaps. If Austin continues to churn out new acts like Makzey, I don’t see how Austin media could possibly keep its head in the sand any longer.

fuvk “Halcyon”

If I was forced to pick one single Austin artist primed for a breakout SXSW this year, it would undoubtedly be fuvk. The previously mystery enshrouded singer-songwriter has been a favorite in the (100% nonexistent) Ovrld offices for years for her breathtaking vocals and diaristic lyrics, which manage to be sparse yet full of intimate imagery. Fuvk is on the official roster of SXSW this year and she just dropped the mini-EP Golden Girl to coincide with the event. Though Golden Girl isn’t as instrumentally adventurous as last year’s Time Series, it continues the work of building out fuvk’s sound without sacrificing the intimacy that has made her material so refreshing. “Halcyon” is the highlight, adding swirling electric piano and unexpected bursts of feedback to fuvk’s unmistakeable voice and acoustic strumming. There’s also an intriguing use of noise in the song to bring the lyrics’ emphasis on the haze of memory to life, from the aforementioned feedback to found sounds littered throughout the background to a lo-fi filter draped over fuvk’s voice towards the end. Every fuvk work is a perfect entry point for newcomers, but “Halcyon” is a particularly beautiful sampler of all of the traits that make fuvk so notable.

Cat Jaguar “Superstar Cloud Junior”

Cat Jaguar’s ludicrously infectious single “Superstar Cloud Junior” feels like something I would have stumbled across on MySpace in 2004, and I mean that in the best possible way. The track has the manic energy of some snowed in Midwestern teens warming themselves up by dancing around to whatever ’80s vinyl someone’s uncle left in a moldy box in the basement, three minutes of an Elvis Costello and the Attractions b-side here, a minute and a half of a forgotten “96 Tears” cover there, the whole A-side of the B-52’s debut coming up after. Holley Wright’s sly and aloof vocals are what hold it all together though, hip checking that slithering bass in-between cheeky organ, making it so you don’t know if her beckoning you to come upstairs with her is a decision that will end in bliss or death or maybe both.


Mr Frosti “Kinda Sorry”

Hip hop has been home to dissociative conversations since at least De La Soul’s “Me Myself and I” rose up the charts back in ’89, so Mr Frosti’s chaotic internal conflict on “Kinda Sorry” isn’t technically new. But the execution of it certainly feels fresh, splicing together the shocking statements of an unsuppressed id that made Eminem and Tyler, the Creator with the kind of meta-awareness you’re more likely to see in a Vonnegut book, beginning with not one but two full stops of the music to question his own lyrics. What makes “Kinda Sorry” such a delight, though, is how that unhinged narrative pairs with playful and catchy production, featuring what sounds like a toy piano squaring off against the steel drums from “Under the Sea.” Wait, wait, wait– don’t run off just yet because of how that sounds on paper. Trust me when I say “Kinda Sorry” truly fucking works, the bonkers approach to songcraft and the brain twisting verbal dexterity on display heralding Mr Frosti as not just one of the boldest talents in Austin hip hop but also one of the most unique.

Fools “Electric Shock Therapy”

On paper, Fools sound like a band I should hate. Solos! Breakneck changes! Enough parts to confuse Yes! But oh, how I love them so. That’s probably because all the chaos and switch-ups come together beautifully to make Fools sound like what you hope every party will be– a hurricane of sex and sweat and regret. The band’s new single “Electric Shock Therapy,” part of a project where Fools release a single and a video a month for an entire year, is quintessential Fools, piling hooks and solos and dumpster dividing rhythms behind Jacob Miguel’s glam trash vocals as he talks up being “a rock and roll boy” whose electroshock therapy really got to him. There’s also something about love being an ocean where you “swim until you die,” further connecting Fools with romantic death wishes, which makes sense– every Fools show I’ve been to has felt like it’s perpetually a second away from becoming mass spontaneous combustion. And who wouldn’t want to go out like that?

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