Latest Toughs: Wil Cope, Institute 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.

Wil Cope “End of the Bed (End of the World)”

If you asked me to pick a real place that fit my vision of the end of the world, I’d likely say the flat and desolate terrain of West Texas on the road out to California. It’s not apocalyptic in the way we see in movies, with all that fire and screaming and rubble. Instead it’s the emptiness of a true end, a place that Wil Cope describes on “End of the Bed (End of the World)” as “down the highway, where those buffalo used to roam,” but now is only home to the ghostly moans of coyotes and other creatures what walking between shadow and light. It’s an area you only seek out if you’re running from something or looking for a runner, and on “End of the Bed (End of the World),” Cope’s doomed protagonist fits both, desperate as he is to follow in the footsteps of a lover who fled into the night, packing only bullets and cocaine in a place where no one knows her name. But the madness and futility of such a voyage is clear even before Cope gasps the lyrics out in the drawl of someone lying in a pool of their own blood– you hear it in lonesome shuffle of the rhythm guitar, in the faraway gunshot echo of the drums. Cope’s lovers worlds ended the moment they left their shared bed, the only thing left to do was to head out to some place that felt as apocalyptic.

Kathryn Legendre “Going Crazy”

Kathryn Legendre may lack Dolly Parton’s big hair and huckster grin but on her single “Going Crazy” she makes a strong case for herself as heir to Dolly’s country queendom, with all the sass and humor and charm that entails. Legendre is aided in that endeavor by a crack backing band that are able to give “Going Crazy” that classic ’70s radio country sound without the sterility that throwbacks too often have, with Zach Moulton’s pedal steel and Eddie Dickerson’s fiddle in particular sharing the spotlight with Legendre’s vocal. All in all, “Going Crazy” has the makings of a future Texan dancehall classic and you’d be crazy not to add it to your personal rotation.

Trashdog “Apologize to the Rice”

Andrew Jackson’s label Digital Hotdogs is celebrating its 50th release this month with a compilation showcasing what has become one of the freshest rosters in indiedom. Appropriately enough, the first offering from the compilation is “Apologize to the Rise,” from Jackson’s own project Trashdog. Strange, captivating and just the right amount of goofy, “Apologize to the Rise” is about as good a summary as you could hope to provide for a label as hard to define as DGHD, mashing together art-punk oddness with garage rock primitivism resulting in something akin to Swell Maps and Devo squatting together in an abandoned laboratory.

Institute “Dazzle Paint”

Having your roster split between two states hundreds of miles away from each other would kill most bands, but luckily Institute are not most bands. If anything, being a half-Texas/half-New York outfit has done Institute well, breathing new life and fresh influences into their sound, as “Dazzle Paint” from their new LP Readjusting the Locks effortlessly proves. Institute’s rhythm section in particular has made a major leap forward, with the bass now taking on more melodic responsibility without losing any of the grimy thuggishness that has always been a key component of Institute’s style. The impressive melodic interplay between the bass and the lead guitar also leaves more room for frontman Moses Brown to occupy the midrange, allowing his cottonmouthed yaps and howls to hit harder while remaining as mysterious and indecipherable as ever.

Abe “Begin (ft. Nobel)”

Virtual Feelings operates in the opposite end of the musical spectrum from Digital Hotdogs but their intents are similar– curate odd music that pushes boundaries while remaining listenable. Abe’s “Begin (ft. Nobel)” is their latest release, a combustible club track that sounds like someone dumped a bunch of amphetamines into a fax machine and had it call up Skepta. If that doesn’t sound like a pleasant auditory experience to you, well, I can understand your reticence, but in execution it’s addictive and hypnotic, particularly when the glitched out skronks and skritches lock into the groove and then step back out before you’ve even noticed.

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