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.
Half Japanese- “In Its Pull”
Did you know Half Japanese is 40 years old? That’s four decades of insane, totally unique jams from the Fair brothers and company. Jad Fair remains Half Japanese’s only consistent member, and now he’s apparently located in Austin where he has put together Overjoyed, the first Half Japanese album in more than a decade. If you’re unfamiliar with Half Japanese, Overjoyed’s first single “In Its Pull” is a surprisingly great introduction to the group. With some metallic, clangy guitar chords, a belligerent primal bassline and motivational lyrics, “In Its Pull” is noisy and fun and disruptive. Deerhoof’s John Dieterich produced it and it’s easy to hear his influence throughout, particularly in the overflowing drums that spill out around every angry chord. The album itself won’t be out until September 2nd, but if this track isn’t enough to keep you sated, the band also made a mini-documentary about the album.
Bloody Birthday- “Believer”
I tried to write about Bloody Birthday some time last year for our From Our Living Room to Yours column but they pulled the EP I had discussed and I had to scramble to get something else ready for print. I guess it was just too good to be out in the world for longer than a week. Anyway, they’ve resurfaced with “Believer,” a track that sounds like Nick Zinner departing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to go shake up My Bloody Valentine. There are trip-hop drums, a nursery rhyme melody on the chorus and guitars that can’t decide whether they want to offer up machine gun bursts of epic squall or send you off to night terrors land with some bittersweet single note riffs. Go listen to it before it disappears under mysterious and potentially criminal circumstances.
Hola Beach- “Distant”
Hola Beach popped up on my radar a little while ago due to something involving a Beerland show. The details are vague and only half remembered. I’m going to guess it involved a last minute booking vacancy. They quietly released a self-titled EP on cassette back in April but it’s been stupidly slept on, and I’m doing my little part to rectify that right now by bringing “Distant” to your attention. If J. Mascis had gone down a pop punk route and stopped playing all the instruments himself, he might make something like “Distant,” which features an impossible to ignore, insistent lead hook and some thundering drums from the amazingly named Hugh Vu. It’s catchy without trying, bored but charming, decked out in a suitably Austin slacker vibe but together enough to have been recorded at indie station KVRX rather than someone’s parent’s basement.
Hola Beach also happen to be playing a show on Thursday, July 24th at Spider House. Hop to it.
Summer Swells- “Herbalist”
I’m a sucker for simplicity, so Summer Swells’ new single “Herbalist” had me right from the start of its two chord verse, with that muted, rollicking rhythm guitar. Keeping its chord structure simple frees Summer Swells up to have a lot of fun with harmonies and counter melodies on the verses, which in turns lets the song rise to the occasion on the triumphant choruses, and then some nice twangy guitar solos come in and remind you that solos don’t always ruin a song. The day is hot and you want iced tea and lemonade and something to keep you relaxed while you’re hanging out on the porch. The “Herbalist” is good for that in more ways than one, so kick up your feet and let a little twang into your life.
Tee-Double- “Push Thoughts”
Though he’s pretty well known in the community as one of the godfathers of ATX hip-hop, I feel like Tee-Double doesn’t get enough credit for his skills as a producer. “Push Thoughts,” from his new album Acrobeatix, features a beat that’s situated somewhere between Dan the Automator and Cut Chemist, all high end synth chimes, electric pianos and a tightly funky drum sample anchoring it all. Tee keeps his flow pretty classic and simple for the bulk of the track before taking a daredevil turn towards the end, cramming in a plethora of verbal twists and turns in between the beats. Tee also released the instrumentals for the album, providing plenty of material to keep you going before the weekend starts.
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 Dylan Garsee on twitter: @Nick_Hanover