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.
The Glass Woods- “Used to Be in Love”
I’m starting this week off with a mystery. “Used to Be in Love” is a track by purported lost garage act The Glass Woods, who are part of an ongoing collection called “Jamie Panzer’s Compendium of No Hit Wonders.” The thing is, I don’t think The Glass Woods are a dug up ’60s artifact. I don’t think they’re even a band. As near as I can tell, they’re one of a number of identities artist Jamie Panzer has created for his “Compendium of No Hit Wonders.” But regardless of the origins or intent, “Used to Be in Love” is a damn good psych-garage ode to a failed relationship, with a shambling power poppy vibe that recalls The Nerves and some throat disintegrating vocals that bring to mind early Yardbirds. Panzer’s concept is a great one, like some performance artist twist on Velvet Goldmine for the garage rather than the glam era, but the song would be a must listen even without the backstory, and the similarly “lost” classics that surround it are all worth checking out too.
The Ghost Wolves- “White Lily”
Slightly more authentic in terms of existence is The Ghost Wolves, who have made their Converse Rubber Tracks recordings from this year’s SXSW public. I’ve singled out “White Lily” as the best of the three for its DFA1979 bass assault and the Cramps-meet-the-Kills horror blues feel. Lyrically the song has a clear Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! influence with its description of a woman who “Came to me like a plane crash,” packing “A 12 gauge and a woman’s rage.” You could even view it as a sequel to “Dangerous Moves,” its equally femme fatale oriented predecessor from May’s Man, Woman, Beast release. But all the tracks on this lighting quick EP are rawer and rougher due to the nature of the Rubber Tracks recording process and as far as I’m concerned that’s a better fit for Ghost Wolves. The confidence that’s clear throughout the songs bodes extremely well for whatever Ghost Wolves have planned for Man, Woman, Beast’s follow-up, but in the meantime be sure to catch them at C. Boy’s Heart and Soul on Sunday for free, backing up the legendary BP Fallon.
Ike- “Skyline (ft. Worldwide)”
Back in May we premiered “Sincerely,” a track that had LA emcee/producer Ike teaming up with native Austinites H. Qureshi and Max Frost for a nice slice of dreamy summer hip-hop. Now Ike and H. Qureshi have sent over “Skyline,” a new collaboration from their upcoming album Paradise that sheds the drowsy daytime feel of “Sincerely” as H. Qureshi crafts a more nocturnal beat to soundtrack Ike’s first visit to “The Capitol/Where they hustle for capital” but, as he’s quick to point out, it’s a town where if you “Say the wrong thing in the wrong place/They cappin’ you.” “Sincerely” had a more deliberate pop sheen, as should be expected with any track featuring Max Frost, but “Skyline” has a subtle confrontational air, something that’s further emphasized by the G-funk tone of the sample Qureshi builds the song around. Qureshi’s got a talent for giving his collaborators plenty of room to stretch out and diversify and “Skyline” is yet further proof that his and Ike’s Paradise is going to be a release to look out for.
Kenny Gee- “Swang and Bang (ft. Dre Prince)”
There’s some weird collisions of influences going on in Kenny Gee’s “Swang and Bang.” Taken from one perspective, it’s a chop and screwed downtempo club track. From another perspective it’s very much of the post-808s and Heartbreaks school of bedroom hip-hop, with shimmery synths moving in and out of the audio frame as it flips ESG’s classic “Swangin’ and Bangin'” until it’s something more melancholic. Kenny Gee himself was born three years after that ESG hit dropped, something he points out when he reconfigures’ ESG’s “1993” opening line; the point is not much shit changes, as even the gold in mouths and wrapped around necks has swung back around to being in fashion again and everyone is still chasing a payday that’s never as big as it needs to be. Kenny Gee’s Hieroglyphics album on the whole is full of verbal and audio contradictions, which makes it an exceptionally on point commentary on the push and pull of culture and peers on black youth coming of age in th
Whiskey Shivers- “Pray for Me”
ATX alt-country major players Whiskey Shivers had their new single “Pray for Me” debut on CMT (click that link to play it, we’ll add an embed here when it’s available) last week and it’s an impressively produced and arranged track that recalls inner country demon classics like The Louvin Brothers “Satan is Real” except a whole lot more upbeat in its depiction of personal turmoil and hopeful salvation. The band told CMT that the upcoming self-titled album “Pray for Me” is pulled from is full of “auditory Easter eggs,” as they recorded “a whip, a stroh, chains, we even mic’d up some garbage and smacked it around” in order to get a truly ramshackle sound. The spotlight is still primarily on the fiddle and the group harmonies, but all that junk in the band’s trunk helps emphasize the chaotic clutter pulling on the band’s soul. “Pray for Me” might not be a barnstorming Friday night thumper, but since it’s Austin, I’m guessing at least a few of you will need to be washed free of a sin or two before Monday comes back around.
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