Release Date: May 28, 2012
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Garage Rock Revival
If "Keep On Movin'" is to be believed, King Tuff's guitar doesn't shred, it "drools." That's an appropriate visual: The greasy, catchy garage-pop on the Vermont-bred singer's second record sneers like convenience store parking lot stoners. Black-and-blue bruisers "Anthem" and "Bad Thing" benefit from some chicken-fried riffing, but Tuff is just as good in the slower moments. The dewy-eyed, piano-bar gospel of "Swamp of Love" suggests that, under the leather jacket and taco-stained Ramones T-Shirt, beats a genuine human heart.
“There’s nothin’ better than alone and stoned,” Kyle Thomas sings on the second song of his self-titled sophomore album. “Listenin’ to music on your headphones,” he continues the line, and it might as well be the modus operandi of his Sub Pop debut as King Tuff. Used to be, the man with a penchant for glammed-out, lo-fi pop perfection played his should-be hits for a select few; now, Thomas has a legit producer and a much-bigger set of songs to show for his efforts.
Kyle Thomas is a busy man. Over the last six years, he has released or been in involved in as many records, seeming to launch one band off of another, making all the right connections to find outlets for each release: from the Vermont freak folk collective Feathers (on Gnomesong) to the Sabbathy metal band with J Mascis on drums, Witch (on Tee Pee Records), to the first album under the name King Tuff, Was Dead (also on Tee Pee), and, in the most recent phase, the twisted scuzz pop of Happy Birthday (on Sub Pop). That leads us finally to the second King Tuff album, self-titled, and also on Sub Pop.
Even if you don't recognize the name Kyle Thomas, you may know some of his associations. Seth Bogart, better known as Hunx, cites him as his best friend. He was the frontman of stoner-metal outfit Witch, but wasn't the band's best-known member. (That honor goes to the band's drummer and all-around indie-rock hero J Mascis.) He was a part of sprawling Vermont hippie collective Feathers back when you could use the term "freak-folk" without feeling embarrassed for yourself.
King TuffKing Tuff[Sub Pop; 2012]By Colin Joyce; June 7, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetKyle Thomas, both under his King Tuff moniker and with Brattleboro, Vermont based band Happy Birthday, has become known for a fuzzed out garage pop typical on the fringes of the indie scene as a whole. With the exception of his work with J Mascis’ metal band, Witch, and folk band Feathers, he’s largely delved into this '60s influenced sound. On this, his second record as King Tuff, Thomas expands his sonic palette a little further, while still remaining well within that garage rock context.
Laid-back garage popster King Tuff delivers a long-awaited follow-up to Was Dead with his self-titled Sub Pop debut. He was no slouch during the four years since that first official full-length, touring with soda shoppe punkers Hunx & his Punx (who share his snotty, nasal vocal stylings) and J. Mascis' stoner shredders Witch, as well as putting out a record with his own lo-fi indie pop band Happy Birthday and moving from his native Brattleboro, Vermont to Los Angeles.