The Latest Toughs: A Giant Dog, Bum Out 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 bands to get you up to date and make each of your workdays a little easier.

A Giant Dog- “Sex and Drugs”

It’s fitting that A Giant Dog would make their Merge Records debut with “Sex and Drugs,” a song that is anchored around the line “I can’t even remember being young.” To newcomers, the band is going to seem like some out of nowhere New York Dolls inheritors, glammy and boozy and vital, instantly catapulted into the current timeline from some alternate ’70s. But for astute veterans who have kept an eye on the group for close to a decade, that line hits with further meaning, commenting on the band’s exhausting trek to their current ascendance as well as the amber frozen immaturity of the city on the whole. This isn’t even really a new song, it’s a live staple that fans already have memorized. And that’s perfect, because the best anthems are the ones you already knew in your heart since you’ve been living them before they even got recorded.


Wild Fitz- “Oh Death”

I initially though “Oh Death,” a track by the new-to-me Wild Fitz, was going to be yet another cover of the folk standard of the same name. Although it shares a title with that classic, Wild Fitz’s “Oh Death” is its own thing, rugged and sparse and cheeky as much as it is depressing. “Oh death, oh death/Oh who will you take next?” Fitz asks, before ultimately asking the grim reaper to consider him since he’s all alone anyway now that his friends and faithful hound dog have left this earth. Where a lot of modern day folk revivalists miss out on the dark humor of the old standard they’re inspired by, Wild Fitz embraces it, his voice the right balance of world weary resignation and gallows humor. Death is inevitable and the only fairness is that it comes for everyone, but Fitz’s delivery of the “why don’t you take me instead?” line is self-deprecating sarcasm, a way of pointing a finger in death’s face and saying “I’ve given you all I have, so why not lay off for a bit?”


Bum Out- “En Tres”

Bum Out’s “En Tres” is a curious track, too melodic to be traditional hardcore, too weird in its structure to be poppy, too aggro to be emo. It sounds like a song you could chant to, but it throws too many curves for that to be sustainable for all but the most devoted of fans. Even with its subversion of expectations in mind, it’s an especially engaging effort from a group of punk lifers, with time served in such excellent acts as UNTD SNKS, Camp X-Ray and The Capitalist Kids. You can hear traces of each of those in the song, which is probably why it is so hard to pin down but also why it’s so revitalizing, a breath of fresh air from Austin’s frequently homogenized hardcore scene.

Bum Out play this Friday, February 12th at Beerland with Mean Girls, New China, Sherman’s March and more.


DWHB- “Ain’t Really (ft. BK)”

The Austin hip hop scene gets a lot of flak for being a little more weird and wordy than the rest of the region, but I’m impressed with DWHB for finding a way to merge Aesop Rock level verbal dexterity with more radio friendly R&B hooks on “Ain’t Really.” Opening with a burst of rapid fire lyricism, “Ain’t Really” eventually blossoms into a smoother tune, maybe not exactly fit for mass consumption but at least more explicitly hook-focused than the majority of indie hip hop. The group’s new LP Bulk Spices is similarly adventurous in its genre mixtures, the heady lyricism a constant but never intimidating or masturbatory. There’s a lot of promise here.


Militant Babies- “Apolitical Song for My Bartender to Sing”

I’m sure plenty of you are already exhausted by this election cycle and we’ve barely even started with it. Militant Babies nail that political exhaustion on their new track “Apolitical Song for My Bartender to Sing,” a cranky plea for silence in a time of way too much talking. Escalating from a bass heavy bit of slack rock to an appropriately intoxicated Guided by Voices-style chorus, “Apolitical Song” just wants its preachy, sanctimonious friends to get their bullshit “the fuck outta here” so the more apathetic among us can drink in peace. That’s an election season sentiment I can stand behind.

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