Latest Toughs: Vapor Caves, Go Fever 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.

TC Superstar “Mama Mia”

On “Mama Mia,” debonair pop savants TC Superstar ponder the allure of a relationship that is clearly toxic over a beat that would make Hot Chip envious. The real draw of the track is the air of exasperation in the vocals, delicately striking a balance between a resigned awareness of being doomed to repeat the same relationship mistakes and of being charmed by the person causing all those headaches in the first place. But the production itself shouldn’t be overlooked either, with its mix of DFA Records style percussion and early Depeche Mode synth bop.

Poolboi Blu “Denim”

Not to get too hyperbolic but I can confidently say Poolboi Blu’s “Denim” is the greatest tribute to utilitarian street fashion since Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms.” Built out of glassy samples and slacker trap riffs instead of chugging nu-blues riffs and strings, “Denim” is a chilled out love letter to that most casual and durable of fabrics. Poolboi’s smirking yet affable delivery makes up a lot of the appeal, bringing just the right amount of smart ass sass to the track without turning it into an unfun mockery.

Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice + LoPhi “Uncanny Valley”

Over on the more cerebral end of the spectrum, Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice and LoPhi have teamed up for Uncanny Valley, an album that serves as “an abstract, dusty experimental sonic exploration of deeply inward-facing reflections.” All of it is an exploration worth taking but the title track is where these two pioneers truly fuse together, with Chief sounding like a reverberating phantom calling out from within LoPhi’s sputtering electronics and digital cacophony. Or as Chief puts it in the lyrics, “backchannel chatter where we hammer out a gameplan” to “generate fantastic from the havoc automatic.”

Go Fever “Feel So Much”

If you pay attention to Go Fever vocalist Acey Monaro on, well, any platform you’ve likely noticed her colossal affection for Meat Loaf. But “Feel So Much,” from Go Fever’s highly anticipated upcoming album Daydream Hawker, is the first time I’ve heard that Meat Loaf love come through the 21st century pub rock aesthetic that has defined the band since their eponymous EP. The verses have Monaro belting it out with the romantic longing and teen dream fixations of Bat Out of Hell Vol. 1 era Loaf before embracing her inner Ellen Foley for the “I really want you” chorus, complete with some Mick Jones worthy guitar hooks and production rugged yet unfussed over enough to give Nick Lowe a grin. It’s not so much that Monaro and her Go Fever bandmates sound like they’re engaging in too much hero worship, it’s that they’re turning out the kind of heart pounding anthem that would make those heroes, Mr. Loaf included, damn proud.

Vapor Caves “I Miss You”

’80s synth pop is on its umpteenth revival at the moment so I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate Vapor Caves putting out some ’90s R&B revivalism with “I Miss You” to balance the scales a bit. Apparently culled from a beat tape producer BoomBaptist gave to vocalist Yadira Brown for Christmas a few years back, “I Miss You” certainly sounds like a lovingly constructed gift and it’s not hard to hear why Brown was moved to build on it. Melodic yet also hard hitting, the beat of “I Miss You” is an ideal platform for a vocalist like Brown, who can switch from sharp and brash to sweet and sensual without missing a thing. That quality allows Brown to drive home the reality of missing someone while they’re away– even as you’re thinking of all the things you love about them, you’re hating them for making you miss them in the first place. I suspect “I Miss You” will be popping up on a whole lot of other people’s sweetheart mixtapes all throughout the year.
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