By Nestor Vazquez
Artist: King Tuff
Album: Black Moon Spell
Label: Sub Pop
Released: Sept. 23, 2014
Kyle Thomas is back with his garage-rock project King Tuff for their third full-length album titled “Black Moon Spell.” The simplicity of this album is layered with glam-rock tendencies of the ’70s, the nitty gritty sound of your neighborhood’s garage band, all intertwined by the ethos of DIY that King Tuff straps its roots to. It’s not pretty, it’s not an overly engineered album, there are no diamond hits; it’s all handcrafted, giving you an insight into what goes on inside Thomas’ scattered brain.
Thomas’ participation in a plethora of projects has not affected the sound of King Tuff, despite the many different genres he encompasses in his other bands, ranging from heavy metal, to stoner rock, to King Tuff’s pop garage-rock sound. He incorporates lo-fi pop choruses with heavy distortion, which is plastered with the simple drum tracks that compliment each song. Once you get through the schtick of his sound, you realize that Thomas is a very talented musician, mastering his craft of these simple melodies with power choruses in each song. Take the opening album-titled track “Black Moon Spell,” for example, with its stoner riff that kicks the door wide open only to be brought back down by Thomas’ nasally voice. Then the chorus brings you back up with the main riff, along with an upbeat drum track that has you stomping your foot to the rhythm.
Thomas’ voice may be a bit off-putting for some, maybe even an acquired taste for established fans. But in general that’s the spirit of the DIY aspect of this band. Even Thomas has commented on the fact that because he doesn’t use appropriate vocal techniques when he sings his throat is usually shot out by the second show. That slight nuance though is what brings this album together as you hear the raw melodies sung by Thomas, along with riffs drowning in distortion. With touring and festival appearances happening in the coming months, I believe this album will garner the attention of more new listeners who are maybe looking for something fresh, despite the fact that King Tuff has been around since 2006.
I recommend the songs “Black Moon Spell,” “Headbanger” and “Eddie’s Song” to new listeners of King Tuff.