Latest Toughs: Mamis, Twain 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.

Mamis “Tus Ojos”

Surf rock isn’t a genre one usually associates with the political. The ferocious quartet Mamis have been working to change that for the past few years, though, injecting their psych-tinged surf rock with bilingual lyrics concerning everything from bodily autonomy to migrant rights to cultural diaspora. “Tus Ojos” is the perky culmination of their sound, a blend of East Bay Ray surf punk guitars and thrusting rhythms boosting a vocal devoted to feminist empowerment. Adrian Quesada’s production work for the quartet smartly leans towards the rough, hinging on a submerged murkiness that adds to the immediacy of the sound in a way pristine recording can’t. Surf rock hasn’t sounded this dangerous in decades.

Scenic Brooke West “Burner”

I can’t think of the last time ennui felt as artful as it does on Scenic Brooke West’s “Burner.” Unsettling yet strangely calming, “Burner” is the sound of someone realizing their life has been a waste right in the middle of their end of work commute. It’s also the rare triphop oriented track that sounds new rather than derivative, the Can-like guitars provoking a mood of unease even as the angelic choir samples and serene lead vocal do their best to lull you into peace. Between the uniqueness of their sound and the boldness of their visual aesthetic, Scenic Brook West are situated to be one of the most intriguing new Austin acts in quite some time.

Dayglow “Can I Call You Tonight?”

Blissful indie pop will never solve a single one of my problems yet I gorge myself on it anyway. This week’s dish of choice is Dayglow’s single “Can I Call You Tonight?” a sunny slice of crisp guitar rock that’s so perfect I can’t decide whether I want to embrace or strangle its 19 year old creator Sloan Struble for being so talented at such an absurdly young age. Struble has a gift for making his finely crafted songwriting sound effortless but he’s equally gifted at arrangement and tone– the guitars are crystal sharp and airy, the percussion emphatic and tense, their brash confidence a delightful contrast to Struble’s shy yet eager vocals.  This isn’t your normal rookie indie single, this is a work that will be taking up real estate in your brain for years.

Dayglow play Spider House Ballroom on Saturday, November 17th for Clark Twain’s album release show

Twain “Young God (Gotta Lotta Feeling)”

From the subtle baroque elements of its composition to the analog hiss of its production, Twain’s single “Young God (Gotta Lotta Feeling)” sounds like a lost collaboration between the Kinks and Nick Drake, more British pastoral than Austin weirdo. Written and recorded inside a van, “Young God” has the way of the wanderer grafted onto its DNA, serpentine guitars and wistful keys dreaming of far off places, Mt Davidson’s melody sketching out a map based on their visions. We may never arrive at the destination promised by those notes but “Young God” is a splendid journey nonetheless.

K.I.R.K. “Yoga”

Beginning like a classroom desktop beat freestyle, K.I.R.K.’s “Yoga” is a calculated shot at the club maximalism style currently dominating both indie and mainstream hip hop. All that sparseness and off-kilter rhythm allows K.I.R.K. to make good on the promised dexterity of the title, stretching his lyrical limbs as he builds to a tightly coiled rage, trying to restrain himself from going John Wilkes Booth on musical rivals. That threat comes with the added boost of some subterranean bass rumble, some kind of prelude for a Hulk transformation, where the smashing of puny humans happens with words instead of big green fists. I don’t know about you, but I think I do like K.I.R.K. when he’s angry.

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