KIng Tuff – King Tuff

Rating: ★★★½ ·

In the brief bio on Sub Pop‘s web page for King Tuff, and his new self-titled album, it alludes to the fact that the entirety of the record is just rock n’ roll and that you can’t really listen to it with critical ears.  For what it’s worth, the bio is pretty spot on, as King Tuff is something you’re just going to have to experience for yourself.  But, I’ll do my best to point out some highlights.

While “Anthem” is the official song to kick off the record, the best served song to begin your listening experience might be “Alone & Stoned;” it’s a bit on the poppier side, which could ease you into the listening experience.  King Tuff‘s vocals have a slight resemblance to Nobunny or Hunx, and his musical style is definitely similar, though this track does show you a nice bit of polish–though there’s still that element of playfulness.  That light-hearted attitude is something that definitely benefits the record, coming through on other songs like “Keep Movin” and “Baby Just Break.”

But, while KT can come across as setting out to have fun, he’s also got a penchant to infuse a bit of traditional garage rock into his tunes, just as he does on the album’s standout track, “Bad Thing.”  It’s fueled with guitar solos and an angrier moment that’s not present anywhere else on the record.  Personally, I dig the way the he slows the chorus down just a bit before blasting off into “I’m a bad thing” one last time.  It’s the hit single for sure, but stick around as this thing is full of other noteworthy tracks.

There’s softer ballad-ish moment lurking here and there, such as “Swamp of Love.”  It’s built around a strummed guitar and a piano backbone, but it illustrates that King Tuff might not be as tough as the name indicates.  He’s got other moments that come earlier, although possibly too short to be completed ballads, like “Baby Just Break.”  I think these are the tracks that standout the most to me, as I expected the whole record to have an certain amount of ferocity like “Bad Thing,” but aside from album closer “Hit and Run” there’s really nothing that’s just a straight out rocker.  Personally, it fits better this way; you get peaks and valleys on the journey, all with different bits of enjoyment, depending on the listener and what he/she is looking for in King Tuff. 

While it may not need critical ears to listen to this self-titled record, most of the audience will surely find it successful because of its ability to keep you from finding the songs stale.  You can get a quick rocker or a ballad; you can find hints of garage rock; you basically can find gem after gem waiting for your own personal discovery, so it’s probably best to get on it now–go pick up this album from King Tuff.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/King_Tuff_-_Bad_Thing.mp3]

Download:King Tuff – Bad Thing [MP3]

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