King Tuff: S/T

    Kyle Thomas, aka King Tuff, has many alter egos. He spearheaded Sub Pop label-mates Happy Birthday in 2008, scored a stoner doom-rock collaboration with J Mascis with Witch and got freaky with the folk band Feathers. But the “King” is where his true heart lies.  

    Tuff’s 2008 debut Was Dead, contained standouts like “Sun Medallion” in which he croons about hanging out in a graveyard wearing his favorite thrift-store necklace, or “Freak When I’m Dead” in which he contemplates his after-life wardrobe and doesn’t care what his grandma thinks about it.

    His self-titled sophomore effort is Thomas’ most straightforward and genuine album yet. Like the soundtrack to Almost Famous, King Tuff is full of feel-good, no frills rock ‘n roll songs. The first track “Anthem” is just that — a track that asserts the album in classic Beatles-esque fashion.  

    “Alone and Stoned” begins soft and wistful but jumps right back up as a catchy pop rock song that’s easy to bop around to. The album’s brief single “Bad Thing” is silly, loose, fun and with a proper hook, where Thomas’ voice sounds like a cross between the happy-go-lucky pop sound of Weezer’s River Cuomo and the whiny, scrappier vocals of Black Francis of The Pixies.

    His relocation to Los Angeles from Vermont is apparent on this sunny album. Whoever Kyle Thomas may be influenced by, or whatever he has worked on has all accumulated into the person he is today and King Tuff is his most solid. (8/10)

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