Few album covers capture a sound as well as King Tuff did on his self-titled disc in May: A demonic bat clutches a Gibson guitar in one claw, a wizards wand in the other, with King Tuff scrawled across the creatures chest in a font that merges Puff, the Magic Dragon with The Dark Crystal.
Which is all to say, its good, old-fashioned rock n roll as performed by your lovable stoner cousin.
King Tuff is the brainchild of Kyle Thomas, whos been involved in a handful of projects over the past half decade, including Happy Birthday, Feathers and Witch (which also featured Dinosaur Jr.s J Mascis). Only in the last few years has Thomas fully dedicated himself to his solo work.
King Tuff is the thing Ive done all along, even since I was a teenager, he said. Those other projects have been fun, but I would always come back to it. Im focusing on this from now on.
In 2008, Thomas released Was Dead, King Tuffs proper debut, and he followed that this summer with a stellar, self-titled record that beat the dreaded sophomore slump.
It has a quality that none of my other recordings have ever quite achieved, he said. The main difference was working with a producer, as opposed to recording everything myself. It added more stress and torture but I guess it was worth it.
For the disc, Thomas expanded upon the more garage-heavy Was Dead, going from scuzzy, lo-fi ditties to pure rock anthems.
Its been a long time between the two albums and my style has definitely grown, Thomas said. I cant say what the sound will be in the future, but for me, its all about songwriting. As long as its a good song, Ill play and record it.
Next year, Thomas plans to record a third album, although it may not hit shelves until 2013s end. Until then, hell enjoy his victory lap.
I knew it was a solid album, he said. You just make the best thing you can and hope people dont tear you apart too bad.