King Tuff: “Bad Thing”
With his long, stringy hair, grunge-chic threads and ever-present baseball caps King Tuff (a.k.a. Kyle Thomas) looks every bit the down-and-dirty, neo-garage rocker that he is. But looks can be deceiving because under all the grime and fuzz beats a pop singer’s heart. King Tuff’s tunes are plenty punky and snotty, but they’re also full of sharp, ear-wormy hooks and a sweetness you probably wouldn’t expect.
Thomas transformed into King Tuff in 2006. Back then he was splitting his time between playing with the acid-folk outfit Feathers and J Mascis’s (of Dinosaur Jr. fame) stoner-rock side-project Witch. In true garage-rock fashion, Thomas put out the first Tuff material on the venerable CD-R. He released his first true album Was Dead in 2008. His self-titled sophomore record followed this past May.
King Tuff found Thomas stretching the limits of lo-fi garage, incorporating some slower tempos, reverently lifted power-pop melodies, and–gasp!–even synths on one tune (“Unusual World”). Even with the wider palette, he never loses his grimy charm. Just check out today’s song of the day “Bad Thing.” If you strip away Tuff’s sweet, nasally vocals and the many, many layers of punky fuzz, you’re still left with one heckuva bubbly, power-pop tune. It’s got boom and bombast, but it’s got zippy hooks and a great chorus. It’s the musical equivalent of the leather-jacketed kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold. He may be Tuff, but he’s still Kyle.
If you want more King Tuff, he’s releasing a brand new 7″ single called “Screaming Skull” next week (October 9) via the always-terrific Sub Pop Records.