posted Wednesday Dec 17th, 2008

Sometime the most exciting records of the year come straight out of left field, and the debut LP from King Tuff on Colonel Records is another one of those spine-tingling cases that doesn't get tangled in any extraneous affiliations and just dives straight for your pop vulnerability without any haste. I first caught wind of this band (or home recording project) when Gentleman Jesse And His Men covered "Connection" on the Whirlyball 7" comp last year, which quickly resulted in tracking down this elusive outfit as fast as I could.

By all investigative methods, King Tuff sat as an odd duck in the modern pop spectrum, and it's probably better that way. As it turns out, this little miracle is the solo recording project of Kyle Thomas, the guitarist/vocalist in J. Mascis' stoner rock band Witch, as well as one of the main members of the Battleboro, Vermont wispy mind-stretchers known as Feathers. Main musical contributions aside, the picture perfect pop sound King Tuff delivers on this debut LP bowl over his other two projects with ease, and if you're keen on that impossible-to-duplicate shiny early 70s power pop production, coupled with impeccable songwriting, then this is going to win you over before you get through the first few bars of the opening song. It's a snowball effect from "Freak When I'm Dead" onward as heads scratch in unison as to how and why this isolated case of mind-blowing pop hysteria wasn't quarantined before it went to press, yet there's no reason for explanation when an album as great as this one sits before you.

Sounding like he's snuck into a bigger-than-necessary recording studio to do his business, King Tuff drives home a full album of modern classics that evoke all the early pop prime movers, yet it still holds its own personality and creates an overwhelming feeling of excitement that's virtually impossible to shake. Not content to just play the "simple pop" card any more than needed, King Tuff has assembled one of the year's most original albums without any shards of hype sticking out of it, and your life just won't be complete without it in your hands. Don't put it off and get this album as soon as possible for maximum rock'n roll pleasure. Pick it up through Insound right HERE, before it's too late.