I haven’t been able to exactly pin down King Tuff yet. In the past the artist has crafted palatable gutter rock. The sort of snot-crusted, infected stab-tat rock and roll that doesn’t leave you with bloody ears and black eye. Blame it on Sub Pop and their fold of polish happy producers, or just call the next step in a difficult-to-classify artist’s musical progression but this track, “Screaming Skull” sounds nothing like the grimy pop King Tuff has put out before. Instead, “Screaming Skull” sounds like the last song played in a John Hughes film from the glory days of teen-comedies. Lessons have been learned, unexpected relationships have happened, and with a slo-mo shot of someone pumping their fist or throwing a gummy bear, this song snaps on in the background, screen cuts to black, credits roll. Which, cinematically, works fine, well even, but in the oeuvre of King Tuff, I can’t say I’ve settled on my thoughts yet. Something about it feels to have the sort of douche-bag sincerity of a The Boss mixed with the sort of cruisey beach rock any hipster worth his/her salt has grown used to in the last two or three years. King Tuff, if this is the next step on your voyage, I don’t know if I’ll be joining you, if instead this is just a dalliance with a bigger label looking to expand the scope of your audience and sound, well, here’s to you coming through at the end.
“Screaming Skull” is a 7″ release from Sub Pop, out now.
King Tuff (TDCed here) recently spent some time with the fine folks of Aquarium Drunkard spelling out his recent listens. It’s a fine read, and I’ve found myself tumbling head over heels in to the little Burger Records wormhole he’s opened up in front of me. Gap Dream is the first discovery on this uncontrollable journey. “Cover It Up” is the slow draw of a match against the side of a box. Fuzz, a mournful guitar solo, a reverb heavy voice clawing its way out of the mess – each element slowly stacking together, until the drums come in, the guitar gets cranked, and someone kicks the mic stand over. A fine bit of psych rock.
Gap Dream’s self-titled album is out on Burger Records.
King Tuff lived, and then it died, and then it became Happy Birthday, and then it reemerged, the trials and tribulations of its lengthy return seemingly unnoticed. King Tuff has returned, and with it the sort of fuzzed out goofy grin style garage rock we’d come to expect from this scruffy little band. “Bad Things” feels like 70s radio feel-good rock that got kicked in the stomach by a street punk and then dragged through oil-stained city water in the gutter before standing up, shaking it off and reaching for a guitar.
We spent part of our weekend at an awesome DIY rock festival (more on that later), which makes us especially amped for this “trailer” for Pizza Fest 2011 another killer annual DIY festival held at The Funhouse. A three night festival this year on August 4th – 6th, Pizza Fest is all about partying and pizza, of course. There’s a pizza eating contest, free pizza and Personal and the Pizzas play. But as goofy as it all sounds, Pizza Fest 2011 has a seriously awesome line-up featuring the likes of Shannon and the Clams, Witch Gardens, King Tuff, Coconut Coolouts, Dizzy Eyes and more.
You’ve heard Kyle Thomas’ cracked warble through the infectious radio garage-pop of Happy Birthday. Now we’re all lucky enough to be re-introduced to Thomas’ original hip-swaggering, pelvic thrusting rock ‘n’ roll band King Tuff. ”Hands” sounds like the squelch of spandex on the floor of Bill Graham’s Fillmore East when Mick Jagger dragged his crotch across it. It teeters on the cusp of garage and glam and shit-eating rock and roll.
“Hands” originally existed on the Minds Blow CD-R, but was recently re-released by the always surprising Scion garage 7″ series.
I’ve been digging through the detritus of a dead person’s life (no one of any relation or, strangely enough, even friendship) over the course of the last two weeks. It has been a dusty perusal of era after era after era long gone. We’ve found teeth, World’s Fair 1939 memorabilia, and a pair of ladies underwear I could’ve worn as a vest. Each day, covered in grime, I step in to the light of the modern day and everything seems a little too new, a little too fresh.
Amongst the many, many new ventures by Sub Pop, this little band Happy Birthday (Kyle Thomas of King Tuff’s new schtick) stands out as particularly apt to my meander through the decades. It’s new and fresh and grating, but when the song hits thirty or so seconds, all of sudden I’m standing in Mary Pini’s closet amongst Spyderknit sweaters, gold coins and the urge to spin my date in one skirt-swooping spiral.
Or maybe I’ve just been inhaling asbestos and rat fecal dust for a little too long.