King Tuff - Was Dead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

King Tuff

Was Dead (2008)

The Colonel

Shrilly crooning over rhythmically strummed guitars like a Marc Bolan-fronted Velvet Underground, Kyle Thomas has unleashed to the world his King Tuff solo project. Thomas, a key member in the freak-folk collective Feathers and the lead guitarist and songwriter for the J.Mascis-backed heavy metal revivalists Witch, has taken his music into an entirely new genre devotion. Playing off of early `70s rock and roll / proto-punk, which of course was based around `60s garage rock and `50s pop music anyway, King Tuff is an anachronistic approach to modern music.

The obvious attention-grabber is the sweetly poppy "Connection," set up around a simple catchy chord progression, walking bassline and "99 Tears"-style staccato organ during the chorus. "Sun Medallion" is a brooding rocker with a blazing guitar solo and psychedelic overtones. "Freak When I'm Dead" recalls laid back rock 'n' roll with an Americana twinge. But the crowning achievement for the album overall is the devotion to the aesthetic.

The production is tinny, muted and raw. The riffs are authentic. The vocals are cracked. The guitars are clean or slightly tinted with fuzz, the arrangements are random and yet appropriate. The tom rolls that carry the chorus of "Stone Fox" bring the `50s pop chord progression into a moderate-paced rock ‘n' roll ballad.

Some of the songs are going to be glazed over in favor of the most catchy -- this is bound to happen within the genre. Some songs have the wow factor, while others are simply catchy but forgettable. But no one cares, because this is the soundtrack to tuning out the world.