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.
Star Parks “Something More”
In most failed relationships, one party is aware of the end sooner than the other, stuck internally debating whether it’s time to call it all off or pretend things are still fine. The recipient of the break up understandably gets the bulk of the sympathy from mutual friends but no one wants to be the one issuing a romantic death notice. Star Parks explore that stressful position on “Something More,” a deceptively sweet, immaculately arranged California pop opus where the protagonist just wishes their partner would take “this weight off my shoulders, baby.” But as the horns kick in and the harmonies swirl closer together, “Something More” still ends on an optimistic note, reminding us that no matter what happens when a relationship falls apart not from drama but entropy, you can’t take back all the love and memories that were there before.
Star Parks play Barracuda on Friday, March 6th for their album release
Hey Cowboy! “Cherry Jerry Citrus”
As delicious as the fruit combinations in its name, Hey Cowboy!’s “Cherry Jerry Citrus” is indie pop at its finest, a blissful concoction of thumping bass, restless drumming and melodies that feel lighter than air. It’s that lightness in particular that makes it shine, with the production leaving plenty of pockets of space for a subtle, chimy synth line to ping around the corners while the vocal twists endlessly around that plucky rhythm. “I linger on the one I love,” goes the chorus line, “I linger on you,” comes the parenthetical response. You’ll be lingering to “Cherry Jerry Citrus,” too.
Hey Cowboy! play Cheer Up Charlie’s on Thursday, February 20th for their ongoing residency
This Cold Night “1985”
The coldwave trend seems to have quieted down in recent years but that really just means there’s more room for its best, most passionate practicioners. Case in point: This Cold Night, whose “1985” serves as a literal call-to-arms for a very specific point in time. Led by a very Peter Hook bassline and some cold baritone vocals, “1985” doesn’t celebrate the past so much as reject the present and future and all of the chaos and discord that comes from not knowing where things are heading. But its thrilling pace and melodic twists ensure that “1985” isn’t some sadsack nostalgia trip; instead, it’s refreshingly candid and contagiously excited.
It might have been released at the end of the second decade of the 21st century, but Fanclub’s “Trespassing” sounds like it should be in an especially dreamy sequence of a mid-90s Gregg Araki film, with its shoegaze pop textures, mechanized beat and pillow soft vocals. At this point, Fanclub are masters of this particular aesthetic, where wistful longing and heartbeat rhythms pulse together in ecstatic harmony, creating the kind of vibe that is ideal for both crisp autumn hangs and summer bacchanals.
Click-Clack “More Love”
Ever since the release of his masterpiece Blue Eyed Black Boy, Click-Clack has stood out in the Austin hip hop scene as a particularly melodic rapper, drawn to beats that are built around insidious earworms and futuristic hooks that give him plenty of opportunity to play with cadence and rhyme schemes like some kind of cyborg Slick Rick. “More Love,” the kick off track on his new LP Songs I Don’t Hate, tweaks that formula even further, with Click-Clack rightfully nodding to the swagger of White Jamal’s beat before he sets about dicing at it from all angles. Unflinchingly poppy but still imbued with a heavy, explosive presence, “More Love” is yet further proof that Click-Clack is one of the most dynamic and versatile rappers to hit the Austin hip hop scene in ages.
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