The Latest Toughs: Shmu, Botany, Sweet Spirit 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.

Shmu- “Pictionary”

I don’t know what it means for someone to have a “Pictionary heart,” I can only assume it makes emotions hard to read and more likely to be crassly misinterpreted by a group of drunk adults. But this cardiac affliction is the focus of Shmu’s first single from their forthcoming album Shhh!!!! and like a lot of other heart maladies, it’s soaked in yearning and impassioned pleas. “Pictionary” has the calamitous production of latter day Wrens, where odd sounds zoom in and out of nowhere while guitars punch through the red and wrap you up in distortion and buzzsaw riffs. It doesn’t make it easy to decipher the mystery of this Pictionary heart but it does make for a fantastic adrenaline boost, hence it popping up here as our Monday listening suggestion.


BOTANY- “Glow Up (Ft. Matthewdavid)”

Although it’s been four years since BOTANY’s Feeling Today EP came out, 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for the producer. BOTANY will be appearing later this month as part of Exploded Drawing’s Five Year Anniversary bash, and this week will see BOTANY making his full length debut with Dimming Awe, the Light is Raw via WesternVinyl. Only a few tracks are currently available for streaming but our favorite is easily “Glow Up,” an ominous big boom bap affair that gets ethereal once Matthewdavid enters the picture, his vocals submerged in bubbling reverb and untold other layers of effects. A key part of Austin’s current beat renaissance, BOTANY has always stood out for his eclectic catalog and already Dimming Awe is clearly no exception, as the other preview tracks lean towards the joyfully jittery (“Jotu”) to cerebrally chill (the Milo-starring “Au Revoir”).


Ike- “Last Days (Ft. Melat, Tank Washington and King Mez)”

Haris Qureshi might have left Austin for the cooler climate of San Francisco, but the LNS Crew vet continues to churn out excellent work with his Austin peers. Hell, his newest production for Ike functions as an all-star Austin gala, with his LNS bud Tank Washington contributing a verse while Ovrld cover gal Melat provides the hook. Haris’ beat is a little more classical than his recent Eastern music influenced tracks, but it still stands out with its experimentation, from the fake out tempo in the intro to what sounds like a sample running in reverse throughout the entire song. Ike more than holds his own, though, bringing Old Testament wrath to the politically minded track, painting a tragic portrait of constant fear in a society where you’re perceived as the enemy just because of your race. Based on what we’ve heard from Ike and Haris so far, we’re betting when their album hits in November, it will be turning a lot of heads.


Motin- “Lluvia”

As you edge one step closer to the weekend, consider diversifying your club playlist with the cumbia flavor of Motin’s “Lluvia,” an entry from ultra hip local label Discos Peligrosa. The German-based Motin makes tunes that sit comfortably between newer Major Lazer and Robyn’s collaboration with Savage Skulls & Douster. As you’d expect, the beat is everything in dance music and “Lluvia” has an especially strong rhythm, Latin rhythms merging with reggaeton pitch shifting and an EDM synth lead for something that could get even the most timid 6th street visitor to lose control of their ass. And the rest of Motin’s Fauna EP is equally likely to take control of hips and rumps and everything else.


Sweet Spirit- “Baby When I Close My Eyes”

Although they’ve been churning out a number of ’70s inspired material since day one, “Baby When I Close My Eyes” manages to show off a new side of Sweet Spirit by way of Blondie, the disco-tinged track sounding like a more melancholic lost follow-up to “Heart of Glass.” But it’s uniquely Sweet Spirit in its warm, homegrown tone, kicking off with drums that have the ramshackle vibe of an impromptu house show, the swirling synth accompaniment erring on the right side of goofy. Sabrina Ellis sticks to her higher register for the verses, her lyrics constructed from that schoolyard poetry standby where the letters of a lovers’ name are given their own traits. Ellis told Consequence of Sound the lyrics came from a high pressure improvised live debut of the song, which fits the theme, the butterflies that flutter in your stomach before a gig not all that different from the butterflies that visit when a new beau is nearby. And we can sympathize, as every new Sweet Spirit release has us pining for October 16th, when the band’s debut album is due out and we can finally go steady.

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